During the ongoing UN Disarmament Conference, the United States plans on bringing global attention to Russian and Chinese attempts to militarize space. The conference is scheduled to run for five weeks in New York and will cover a wide range of international security issues.
Both Russia and China have been involved in activities they claim are aimed at preventing the militarization of space. But a closer inspection reveals that both countries are covertly developing technologies that could eventually lead to an armed space conflict. And the U.S. delegation aims to bring the world’s attention to this issue.
Back in 2014, the Chinese and Russian governments issued a draft treaty that sought to ban placing weapons in outer space. Yet, both countries skipped addressing a major issue — banning anti-satellite weapons. The treaty does not cover the topic at all even though the two nations are known to be heavily investing in such capabilities. The U.S. believes that unless Russia and China address this issue with full transparency, the topic of the militarization of space will be incomplete.
“What they [Russia and China] want to do is to limit the United States’ ability to operate in space by in essence going forward with an initiative that allows them to be able to attack satellites and other peaceful space vehicles through the use of anti-satellite weapons,” VOA News quotes Ambassador Robert Wood, U.S. permanent representative to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.
Establishing the U.S. Space Force
Even though the U.S. is trying to prevent space from becoming the next battlefield, the unfortunate reality is that this might not actually be avoidable given the current situation. Russia reportedly has a few “killer” satellites in space that have the ability to bring down other satellites and cripple communications of the U.S. military. China is also said to be heavily involved in space-based military technologies.
Understanding that America would be left behind if it does not tackle the issue, Trump recently announced the formation of a “Space Force.” CNN quotes the President as saying: “We must have American dominance in space,” and that he is “directing the Department of Defense and the Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish the Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces. We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force.”
The military establishment is reportedly not happy with the President’s new directive. The reason for this is that the setting up of a separate military branch is a long process that could cause confusion in the current military structure. Yet, the Defense Department did release a statement in support of the president’s vision.
“We understand the president’s guidance. Our policy board will begin working on this issue, which has implications for intelligence operations for the Air Force, Army, Marines, and Navy. Working with Congress, this will be a deliberate process with a great deal of input from multiple stakeholders,” The New York Times quotes a statement from Dana W. White, the Defense Department’s chief spokeswoman.
While initially the Space Force will likely focus on protecting U.S. satellites in space from external threats, the new military wing can later branch out into futuristic technologies like a space-based weapons launch program. A few decades down the line, America might even have its own military outpost on the moon.