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Dublin: 4 °C Wednesday 19 February, 2020

Donald Trump launches new military centre to protect 'America's dominance in space'

US military chiefs claim the move is necessary to defend the country’s ‘way of life’.

Donald Trump speaks in the White House at the establishment of the US Space Command
Donald Trump speaks in the White House at the establishment of the US Space Command
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump has launched a new Pentagon command centre which will be dedicated to warfare in space.

The new command will elevate space – where satellites and high-altitude aircraft essential to modern-day warfare operate – to a focused area of combat.

It will have equal status to the US Central Command governing the Middle East and the Pacific Command, which manages defence operations in the western Pacific Ocean and Asia.

While the US Air Force already has a dedicated space warfare operation, SpaceCom will heighten its importance and foster specialised systems and training for space showdowns.

“This is a landmark day, one that recognises the centrality of space to America’s security and defence,” Trump said in a White House ceremony.

“SpaceCom will ensure that America’s dominance in space is never threatened.”

American military chiefs see China and Russia pressing to erode the advantage held by the US in what’s seen as a new military frontier, and the US President warned of the consequences of such an outcome.

“The dangers to our country constantly evolve and so must we,” said Trump.

“Our adversaries are weaponising earth’s orbits with new technology targeting American satellites that are critical to both battlefield operations and our way of life at home.”

“Our freedom to operate in space is also essential to detecting and destroying any missile launched against the United States,” he added.

Air Force General John Raymond, who will lead the new command, claimed that China and Russia were already pouring huge resources into space operations.

The challenges range from adversaries jamming communications and GPS satellites to ground-launched missiles used to physically destroy satellites.

“We are at a strategic inflection point where there is nothing that we do as a joint coalition force that isn’t enabled by space,” Raymond told reporters at the Pentagon.

“I’m convinced that space is a war-fighting domain. I’m convinced that our way of life and our way of war depend on space capabilities,” he said.

Last year, Trump ordered the Department of Defence to create a much larger Space Force, a dedicated branch of the military equal to the existing forces, the US Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard.

The ambitious and expensive move would require the approval of Congress, although some Pentagon chiefs, including former defence secretary James Mattis, opposed the idea as unnecessary and creating new bureaucracy.

- © AFP 2019

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