Security center director: US needs counterspace capabilities as part of Space Force

A security director is backing President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump PACs brought in over M for the first half of 2021 Chicago owes Trump M tax refund, state's attorney mounts legal challenge Biden hits resistance from unions on vaccine requirement MORE's idea of creating a Space Force, citing a troubling development of counterspace technologies by some of the United States' biggest rivals.

Todd Harrison, director of the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says that while the U.S. still has a “great advantage” over countries like China and Russia, the U.S. military is not doing enough to protect itself.

"Where other countries are causing concern for us is not that they’re developing space capabilities, but they’re developing counterspace capabilities,” Harrison told Hill.TV during an interview that aired on Friday, referring to weapons and other destructive systems designed for offensive uses.  

"That’s where we’re not fully protected — that’s where the Air Force has failed to change quickly enough and adapt quickly enough to protect our space systems,” he continued.

Harrison said other countries have developed counterspace weapons that can thwart Amercia's military advantage, because those weapons can be used against U.S. military and commercial satellites.

"That is a big concern ... our military uses commercial satellites to supplement it’s own capabilities, like in Iraq and Afghanistan, about 80 percent of our communications bandwidth that went through space was on commercial satellites," he said. 

Vice President Pence made similar comments on Thursday, warning that China and Russia have been developing anti-satellite weapons and high-powered airborne lasers. 

"Our adversaries have transformed space into a warfighting domain already and the United States will not shrink from this challenge," Pence said while announcing announcing the Trump administration’s plan to create a space force by 2020.

In Harrison’s interview with Hill.TV, he also talked about the need to unify space efforts across U.S. armed forces and create one military branch dedicated to space, so the U.S. can better defend itself from these emerging threats from space.

But that will also pose some serious challenges.

Harrison cited how the Navy built a constellation of communication satellites. Even though the Army was supposed to build the radios that went into those satellites, the Navy went ahead and launched the satellites without them because both operations were on different schedules, according to Harrison.

“We’ve got wasting assets in orbit just because no one’s in charge of space within the military, so we need a central unified chain of command,” he told Hill.TV.

— Tess Bonn