Space Force launches new command


Pentagon officials have said the new unit is needed given the “pacing threat” posed by China

The United States Space Force is poised to create its first-ever component command in the Indo-Pacific region, where officials have increasingly pointed to rising tensions with regional rivals such as North Korea and China.

The US Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) announced the move on Monday, noting it would oversee the new Space Force unit after it launches later this week. INDOPACOM is the combat command responsible for much of East Asia and the Indian subcontinent, and will be the first to host a Space Force component after the branch’s establishment in late 2019.

Once established, the Space Force unit will reportedly help improve U.S. capabilities to detect and intercept ballistic and cruise missiles fired from countries in the region, though the military has provided few details about its exact function.

However, the branch’s newly appointed chief of aerospace operations, Lieutenant General B. Chance Saltzman, previously suggested that the unit will focus largely on Beijing.

“We just think space is so important now that we need a seat at that table,” Saltzman said at an event last May, adding: “With China being the threat, it was essential that we uphold the service component at INDOPACOM.”

Saltzman took over the Space Force earlier this month following the retirement of former Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond, who was the first to command America’s newest military branch.

While INDOPACOM will be the first combat command to receive its own Space Force component, Vice Chief of Space Operations Gen. David Thompson said others will follow “very soon after,” including units under US European Command and US Central Command, as the military operates “effectively integrate space capabilities.”

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