Just a few months ago, an extensive report from the U.S intelligence community came to a frightening conclusion: Russia and China have been actively pursuing "anti-satellite weapons as a means to reduce U.S. and allied military effectiveness."
U.S. officials recently announced that Russia is developing new technology to further advance its anti-satellite weapons capabilities. Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin has warned that we are playing "catch-up" in achieving American dominance in space.
I know he wants to assure us of that goal and intends to lead to make it so.
Dr. Griffin is a first rate aerospace engineer who 30 years ago personally led several of President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) technology demonstrations illustrating that truly effective ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems can be built.
Some that were made public strengthened our negotiating leverage with the Soviet Union that led to major reductions in nuclear weapons. SDI was credited by many with "ending the Cold War without firing a shot."
After serving as my SDI Deputy Director for Technology, Griffin went on to lead NASA and a successful Aerospace company, among other personal achievements. If Congress backs him up, he will deliver on his stated intention to reverse past trends that have allowed America to fall behind in space technology areas that it once led.
The Republican leadership in both the U.S. House and Senate are clearly on board — as made clear by the National Defense Authorization Act for 2019, which complements President Trump’s Space Force initiative.
If the Democrats will join forces, the U.S. can regain its leadership in controlling the final frontier, as has been envisioned by President Trump — and President Reagan.
Make no mistake — aggressive posturing by Russia and China is a direct threat to U.S. security which can not be taken lightly or dismissed as mere paranoia. Allowing U.S. adversaries to develop powerful space capabilities uncontested will shift the global power balance, and make us vulnerable to an attack that would have devastating consequences.
Experts support President Trump’s proposal.
Terry Virts, a former commander of the International Space Station, urged Congress to back the President’s proposal, warning that threats in space are "only going to get worse . . . It’s hard to overstate the importance of space in our military operations and civilian life," he wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post.
"Though the United States is the world’s leader in space, China and Russia have made it clear they are not willing to accept the status quo."
Legendary astronaut Buzz Aldrin also lauded President Trump’s Space Force, tweeting that the proposal is a "one giant leap in the right direction."
Similarly, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told The Washington Examiner that a Space Force is vital in preventing an "existential threat" to our energy grid.
Prominent astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson argued that establishing a Space Force is not a strange idea, stressing that America needs to defend its "assets in space of incalculable value."
As it stands today, trillions of dollars worth of commerce — including our phone, television, and internet services — are wholly reliant on the satellite infrastructure that’s maintained and operated by the U.S. Air Force. Our satellite delivery capability is potentially vulnerable without establishing proper defenses — and that vulnerability will grow with consequent dangers, unless it is countered quickly.
It’s only a matter of time before another superpower deploys weapons capable of disabling hundreds of satellites in minutes — and quickly bring America to her knees. Some believe this threatening capability already exists. Those who accuse President Trump of simply wasting money on science fiction could soon be blindsided by this grave threat.
Ronald Reagan faced similar naysayers when confronting Soviet aggression. His visionary SDI proposal was ridiculed and dubbed "Star Wars" to suggest it was a fantasy for the U.S. to build a space-based missile defense system. The media guffawed and dismissed Reagan’s concept. But the early technology demonstrations led by Mike Griffin and others showed Reagan’s vision was well justified and technically achievable.
By the end of my SDI watch in January 1993, we knew how to build the most cost-effective defense system then possible, and it would have been built in space. But President Clinton’s administration gutted the entire SDI effort and no administration since has reinstituted the space-based interceptor efforts that long ago could have been protecting the American people — for far less money than we have spent on less effective ballistic missile defense systems.
Reagan knew we would get there eventually and, more importantly, that it could lead to a broader and safer framework for our deterrent forces. I defended that vision in Geneva for five years, and stand behind it still.
Current critics repeat the old mantra that our efforts to build such space-based defenses will militarize space and destabilize relations with other nations. They ignore that we now are now playing "catch-up" in military and other space activities, while continuing to ignore the fact that space was militarized a half-century ago by threatening ballistic missiles that can transit space to deliver nuclear warheads on American and allied targets.
Russia and China will certainly not stop spending billions of dollars to develop new capabilities to undermine U.S. security. America must protect the final frontier from our enemies, and a Space Force is needed to accomplish this task.
Ambassador Henry F. (Hank) Cooper, Chairman of High Frontier and an acknowledged expert on strategic and space national security issues, was President Ronald Reagan's Chief Negotiator at the Geneva Defense and Space Talks with the Soviet Union and Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) Director during the George H.W. Bush administration. Previously, he served as the Assistant Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Deputy Assistant USAF Secretary and Science Advisor to the Air Force Weapons Laboratory. In the private sector he was Chairman of Applied Research Associates, a high technology company; member of the technical staff of Jaycor, R&D Associates and Bell Telephone Laboratories; a Senior Associate of the National Institute for Public Policy; and Visiting Fellow at the Heritage Foundation. He received B.S. and M.S. degrees from Clemson and a PhD from New York University, all in Mechanical Engineering. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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