U.S. Space Force Now Has Component Command at INDOPACOM

U.S. Space Force Now Has Component Command at INDOPACOM

Adm. John Aquilino, Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, formally established U.S. Space Forces Indo-Pacific today during a ceremony at INDOPACOM’s headquarters in Hawaii. Space Force officials pointed out this is the first regional combatant command to be assigned a Space Force Component Command, a deliberate choice since its Area of Responsibility includes China.

Gen. David T. Thompson, Space Force Vice Chief of Space Operations, told reporters this morning that Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall is focused on China as the pacing threat “so we very deliberately chose INDOPACOM first because we want the nation, the Department of Defense, that Combatant Command and anyone who might to wish us harm in that region to understand that.”

Thompson added that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has authorized additional U.S. Space Force Component Commands in South Korea, U.S. Central Command, and U.S. European Command. He expects those for South Korea and Central Command to be established soon, but it may take more time to get all the agreements in order for European Command.

The point is to have a dedicated space professional directly reporting to combatant commanders like Aquilino to streamline relationships between the combatant commands and Space Force and other elements of the national security space community. Until now, an Air Force officer represented both the Air Force and Space Force, both of which are part of the Department of the Air Force.

At today’s ceremony, Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, U.S. Space Force Chief of Space Operations, explained the significance.

“Given today’s multidomain character of war, space must be deeply integrated with the rest of the joint team. This is never more true than in this AOR [Area of Responsibility] where we find ourselves competing against a thinking adversary who continues to field counterspace systems as well as their own exquisite space-based support systems for their increasingly capable terrestrial forces.

“Space Forces Indo-Pacific will provide essential contributions to integrated deterrence in this area of operations. We are for the first time equipping this AOR with a dedicated commander and a headquarters staff that are solely focused on integrating space capabilities. … Just like the other services we will be postured and 100% dedicated to meeting combatant command priorities and its operational tempo.”

As of today, Brig. Gen. Anthony Mastalir is Commander, U.S. Space Forces Indo-Pacific, with a team of 21 Guardians on-site to support him. The establishment of the Component Command was marked by passing its new flag from Aquilino to Mastalir.

Adm. John Aquilino, Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, speaks at a ceremony officially establishing U. S. Space Forces Indo-Pacific Component Command, November 22, 2022. Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, Chief of Space Operations, and Brig. Gen. Anthony Mastalir, Commander, U.S. Space Forces Indo-Pacific, are seated. Screengrab.
The U.S. Space Forces Indo-Pacific flag, unfurled at a ceremony establishing the new USINDOPACOM Component Command. November 22, 2022. Screengrab.
Passing of the U.S. Space Forces Indo-Pacific flag from Adm. John Aquilino, Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, to Brig. Gen. Anthony Mastalir, Commander, U.S. Space Forces Indo-Pacific. November 22, 2022. Screengrab.

Aquilino enthusiastically welcomed the new organization.

“It’s no accident that it happened here in the Indo-Pacific first. The most consequential theater with four of the five identified national security threats sitting in this theater, whether it be the People’s Republic of China, the Russians, the North Koreans, or violent extremists. … Gen. Saltzman and [U.S. Space Command Commander] Gen. Dickinson have clearly identified — oh, by the way, with a little prodding by me — on why it should be first out here. Okay, this is the most challenging theater that we have to take on and the capabilities the Space Force delivers are second to none.”

U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) Area of Responsbility (AOR). Credit: USINDOPACOM

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