If you can believe it, the ultimate frontier is getting crowded. Based on an original report from Nikkei Asia, Chief of the United States Space Force General John Raymond cautioned that security in space would face a “whole spectrum of challenges” from China, requiring extensive international cooperation. It’s unclear whether a space conflict will occur. Still, with China, Russia, and the United States all working on ways to disrupt each other’s satellite networks, it’s only a matter of time before mounting tensions force the problem into a dialogue or something else.
According to the Nikkei report, Raymond stated that China is developing “anything from reversible jammers of the GPS system — which gives precise navigation and timing to blocking of communications satellites.” “They have missiles that they can use to destroy satellites from the ground. I’m confident that the skills they’re building will be put to use in any prospective confrontation.” Raymond’s voice holds weight as the first candidate to Space Force in the year 2019, a newly constituted sixth military branch that is swiftly catching up to other services like the US Navy and Army.
Raymond served in the military for more than thirty years, principally in the Air Force, and he was stationed at Yokota Air Base (US) in Japan from 2010 to 2013, when he served as vice commander of the Fifth Air Force. Following the March 2011 tsunami and earthquake in Japan, Raymond participated in Operation Tomodachi, in which the US military assisted those devastated by a combination of human and environmental calamities. According to him, the United States’ future interests in space must face the fact that the last frontier has now become “a lot more demanding,” as reported in the Nikkei. “All of the tools of national power, whether economic, information, diplomatic, or national security, are based on space.”
Raymond, alluding to China and Russia, noted in the paper that “major power competition is wider than just rivalry among forces.” “It affects all aspects of government. This necessitates the use of space.” It’s difficult to deny that satellites play a key role in many US military movements and strategies, from connecting ships via communications to monitoring the launch of hostile missiles or vehicles. “Access to freedom and space to operate in space are [both] incredibly crucial,” Raymond remarked, reiterating this sentiment.
Some officials have questioned the reliance on orbital satellites as a potential vulnerability, arguing that in the event of a clandestine battle with China or Russia, the essential priority for either side would be to wipe out the US satellite network. We cannot emphasize enough how debilitating this may be for the country’s ability to combat in the twenty-first century.