Building U.S. Space Force Counterspace Capabilities: An Imperative for America’s Defense

Arlington, VA | June 26, 2023 — The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies is pleased to announce a new entry in its Policy Paper series, Building U.S. Space Force Counterspace Capabilities: An Imperative for America’s Defense by Charles Galbreath, Senior Resident Fellow for Space Studies at the Mitchell Institute.

 Space is on the front line of America’s strategic competition with China. Capabilities in this domain are essential to the U.S. military’s ability to deter threats and project war-winning combat power. China has already fielded an alarming array of operational counterspace weaponry, including an arsenal of ground-launched missiles carrying anti-satellite kinetic kill vehicles, ground-based electronic warfare capabilities, and satellites capable of attacking U.S. assets in orbit. China has the most rapidly developing counterspace capabilities of any nation and is expanding its overall space program with the intent to surpass the United States.

It is not in the U.S. interest to see conflict in space. Existing U.S. efforts to promote norms of responsible behavior and increase the resilience of its architecture are necessary but not sufficient to deter the growing threat of Chinese aggression. Just like services in other domains, the U.S. Space Force must have a robust suite of defensive and offensive capabilities to credibly deter adversaries. Clear guidance, Congressional support, and unified Space Force and industry efforts are required to develop, field, and operate counterspace capabilities to enhance deterrence and create a war-winning force. Not taking this next step in the service’s maturation risks a failure to deter China and will jeopardize the national interests of the United States.

The Mitchell Institute Policy Papers is a series presenting new thinking and policy proposals to respond to the emerging security and aerospace power challenges of the 21st century. These papers are written for lawmakers and their staffs, policy professionals, business and industry, academics, journalists, and the informed public.

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