Saltzman: Ukraine Demonstrates Criticality of Space to Modern Warfare

Saltzman: Ukraine Demonstrates Criticality of Space to Modern Warfare

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is providing valuable lessons for the U.S. Space Force says Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, the new Chief of Space Operations. First among them is that space capabilities are critical in modern warfare, but vulnerable to cyber attacks. Proliferated constellations and a comprehensive approach to delivering forces on the field combining weapons systems, trained personnel, intelligence, and operational concepts and tactics are needed.

Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, Chief of Space Operations, U.S. Space Force

Saltzman briefed reporters today on three Lines of Effort, or LOEs, he believes are essential to the success of Space Force as he starts to make his imprint on the country’s newest military service. He is just the second Chief of Space Operations, taking over command from Gen. Jay Raymond on November 2, 2022.

The Space Force was created as part of the Department of the Air Force on December 20, 2019. Military members of the Space Force are called Guardians.

His three LOEs are:

  • Fielding Combat-Ready Forces
  • Amplifying the Guardian Spirit and
  • Partnering to Win

A key message is that it’s not enough for the Space Force to have the best technology. Technology must be part of a comprehensive approach to fielding “resilient, ready and combat credible” capabilities for the Joint Force.

Just having the right systems in space or on the ground doesn’t make a combat-ready force. “The personnel have to be trained. We have to have operational concepts, we have to have tactics that are validated and the operators have to practice those tactics. We need intelligence to underpin how we’re going to continue to use those systems.”

Russia’s situation in Ukraine shows what happens without such a comprehensive approach. “High quality equipment alone doesn’t make you successful if you don’t have the training, the logistics, the sustainability, the operational concepts to operate in multidomain axes. I think the Russians had on paper very good equipment, but it didn’t necessarily have the sustainment behind it, it didn’t necessarily have the logistics.”

Ukraine also is demonstrating that space is critical to modern warfighting including commercial systems like SpaceX’s Starlink broadband Internet communications satellites. Proliferated systems like Starlink with lots of small satellites instead a few large ones also are “much harder to degrade.”

Satellite systems, including their ground components, are vulnerable to cyber attacks, however.  “I think we’ve witnessed some cyber activity that has hurt satellite operations.”

“Space and cyber are inextricably linked.  Satellites in space are not useful if the linkages to them and the ground network that moves information around is not assured.”

The LOEs “aren’t earth shattering,” but add specificity to the work of the past three years “so that we have tangible actions” to “get us to the next level.” They are not meant to be prescriptive, Saltzman stressed. What he’s looking for is a partnership with the field commands, the Space Rapid Capabilities Office, the Space Development Agency and others to ensure everyone’s on the right track.

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