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Spacecom Attains Initial Operational Capability, Commander Says

Aug. 24, 2021 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

The U.S. Space Command reached initial operational capability today and is on the path to meeting full operational capability in the near future, its commander said.

Army Gen. James H. Dickinson spoke today at the U.S. Space Foundation's 36th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

A man in a military uniform speaks.
Gen. James H. Dickinson
Army Gen. James H. Dickinson, commander, U.S. Space Command speaks at the U.S. Space Foundation's 36th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo., Aug. 24, 2021.
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"We were absolutely ready since day one," he said, meaning the date it was established, Aug. 29, 2019, as the Defense Department's 11th and newest combatant command.

IOC is an inflection point for Spacecom, he said. "United States Space Command has matured to the point where we have strategic effects."

Now, Spacecom can expand its structural, functional and organizational gains made since its establishment. "It's where we can credibly claim to be organized and effective for employing our enduring, no-fail supporting functions to the joint force," he said.

Dickinson stressed the important role allies and partners play in Spacecom's mission and that of the entire department.

A photo compilation of service members is shown.
Space Foundation
Graphic presented at the U.S. Space Foundation's 36th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo., Aug. 24, 2021.
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Spacecom has more than 100 data sharing agreements with allies, inter-governmental teammates and commercial partners, he said. These agreements exchange information, enhance space domain awareness, increase the safety of spaceflight operations, and lay the foundation for future collaboration in space operations.

The general added that Spacecom has established command and control capabilities, and has participated in 24 tier-one war games and exercises, which are governmental-wide events to test the United States' collective response to real world contingencies. 

"Our participation helps test and refine space warfighting command and control relationships," he said.

A graphic showing a U.S. and Russian satellite depicts them just above the curvature of the Earth.
Space Symposium
Graphic presented at the U.S. Space Foundation's 36th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo., Aug. 24, 2021.
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Today, threats from China and Russia are even more pronounced than they were when Spacecom was established, he said. The value of Spacecom to protect and defend U.S. and allied interests in space is even more significant. 

"One of our most important sources of American strength is free and open access to the benefits of space-based capabilities," he said. "Free and open access requires a peaceful domain. That's why U.S. Space Command's fundamental objective is to deter a conflict in space. And if deterrence fails, we will defeat aggression, through delivering space combat power for the joint and combined force. … So having reached IOC, we're even more capable now of doing all of that."