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Top Space Command Official Details Strategies, Needs to House Subcommittee

March 4, 2020 | BY Jim Garamone , DOD News

The U.S. Space Force has to maintain operations in the space domain while setting up operating procedures and other aspects of establishing a new armed force, a top Space Command official said.

Air Force Lt. Gen. David D. Thompson, the vice commander of the Space Command, testified about the fiscal 2021 budget request before the House Armed Services Committee's readiness subcommittee yesterday.

Thompson said  some people who are already working in the U.S. Space Command will ultimately be assigned to the Space Force.

A rocket launches from launch pad.
Falcon 9 Starlink
The Falcon 9 Starlink rocket lifts off of Pad 40 at, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Jan., 29, 2020
Photo By: Air Force Airman 1st Class Zoe Thacker
VIRIN: 200129-F-AO460-1022C

The command aims to develop, field and maintain the U.S. combat edge in space and ensure U.S. freedom of action in the domain, he said.

"Building that U.S. Space Force is our top policy priority," Thompson said. "The department is moving quickly to stand up a lean, agile and mission-focused organization."

There is a lot to the effort, Thompson noted, and the mission of the service cannot be ignored while this process moves forward. "The important question when it comes to readiness is 'ready for what?'" he said.

The answer lies in the National Defense Strategy, Thompson said. "Progress along the lines of effort in that document increasingly improve[s] our ability to address near-peer threats in space."

The Space Force mission is to deter hostile action, defend and protect American interests, and if necessary, fight in, through and from the space domain, Thompson said. 

A young airman points to an image on a computer screen.
Space Ops
Air Force Col. Laurel Walsh, 50th Operations Group commander, and Airman 1st Class Michael McCowan, a 2nd Space Operations Squadron satellite systems operator and mission planner, give the final command to decommission Satellite Vehicle Number-36 at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., Jan. 27, 2020. SVN-36 was launched March 10, 1994, and exceeded its design life of approximately seven years.
Photo By: Air Force Airman Amanda Lovelace
VIRIN: 200127-F-PJ004-1001C

The budget submission includes money to protect and defend the satellite systems crucial to today's fight. The command needs money to field assets that are designed to be resilient under attack and deliver space capabilities through all phases of conflict, he said. 

The command also needs funds to develop warfighters.

"The Space Force is making significant investments to harden our assets and strengthen our posture in space and on the ground," he said. "For example, we are continually improving our space domain awareness network needed for that deep understanding of activities in space to treat it as a warfighting domain."

The service is modernizing vital warfighting capabilities, including improvements in GPS to ensure it is resistant to jamming and spoofing. 

People wearing white “clean suits” load a satellite.
The last GPS IIF satellite is encapsulated inside a payload fairing at a processing facility before it was launched aboard an Atlas V rocket Feb. 5, 2016, at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The mission ended a 27-year legacy of processing second generation GPS satellites for the 45th Space Wing.
Photo By: Courtesy photo: Sean Kimmons, United Launch Alliance
VIRIN: 160302-F-VY538-002C

"Assured access to all orbits is also fundamental to sustaining the United States' freedom of action in space," Thompson said. 

The Space Force looks to broaden the space industrial base to bring cutting-edge technology to space prototyping. 

"With all the physical assets of the Space Force and everything that [it] has to execute its missions, it's the people who power the Space Force and who are our most important asset," he said. "We're developing detailed plans and, by fiscal year 2021, expect to transfer more than 6,000 personnel into the U.S. Space Force. Ultimately, we will expand the cadre to more than 12,000 space professionals across 15 career fields to protect U.S. interests in space well into the future."