As a U.S. Space Force officer, I believe that a significant understanding gap persists between Guardians — the name given our personnel — and the public we serve. The gap helps to explain why I am much more likely to be solicited for my opinion about extraterrestrial UFOs than national defense.
So let me try to explain what we do, beginning from a rapidly coalescing idea that Guardians have dubbed “space-enabled attack.”
Imagine that in 2028, the U.S. and China are in a Pacific conflict and we are losing badly. Two decades of Chinese anti-satellite weapons development have hamstrung our ability to project power overseas. When China jams satellite navigation, U.S. forces resort to atrophied map and compass skills to determine locations. When China disrupts satellite communications, a now-isolated U.S. commander gives orders to nobody while a tactical unit awaits targeting data that never comes. Meanwhile, China uses imagery and signals intelligence satellites to hunt down U.S. battleships and communications satellites to pass their locations to an anti-ship missile battery. In this scenario, China leverages space-enabled attack to prosecute advanced warfare; the U.S. does not.
Emerging Space Force doctrine does not yet define space-enabled attack, but it could be defined as an armed force’s ability to integrate space systems to enable or enhance military power. To understand space-enabled attack is to understand how a military force relies on space systems to conduct warfare, which also implies knowing the critical vulnerabilities in both friendly and enemy weapon systems.
The offensive applications of space-enabled attack enable a military force to drive its own combat power — GPS-aided munitions, for example. Its defensive applications defend our forces from an enemy’s space-enabled power — for example, jamming GPS aided munitions.
The defensive applications of space enabled…