Militarizing Space; Asian Pivot and Latin America’s Failure, China Owns

Founders Code

Remember just a few weeks ago when President Trump announced a new ‘space command‘?

The House Armed Services Committee has a fiscal item in the 2018 NDAA for something called ‘Management and Organization of Space Programs’. The Air Force is not too happy. Redundancy maybe or no?

Air Force Space Command, activated Sept. 1, 1982, is a major command with headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. AFSPC provides military focused space capabilities with a global perspective to the joint warfighting team.

Mission

AFSPC’s mission is to provide resilient, defendable and affordable space capabilities for the Air Force, Joint Force and the Nation.

Vision

Innovate, Accelerate, Domininate

Priorities

1. Build Combat Readiness

2. Innovate and Accelerate to Win

3. Develop Joint Warfighters

4. Organize for Sustained Success

People

More than 30,000 space professionals worldwide.

Organization

Fourteenth Air Force is located at Vandenberg AFB, California, and provides space capabilities for the joint fight through the operational missions of spacelift; position, navigation and timing; satellite communications; missile warning and space control.

The Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles AFB, California, designs and acquires all Air Force and most Department of Defense space systems. It oversees launches, completes on-orbit checkouts and then turns systems over to user agencies. It supports the Program Executive Office for Space on the Global Positioning, Defense Satellite Communications and MILSTAR systems. SMC also supports the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle, Defense Meteorological Satellite and Defense Support programs and the Space-Based Infrared System.

AFSPC major installations include: Schriever, Peterson and Buckley Air Force bases in Colorado; Los Angeles and Vandenberg Air Force bases in California; and Patrick AFB in Florida. Major AFSPC units also reside on bases managed by other commands in New Mexico, Virginia and Georgia. AFSPC manages many smaller installations and geographically separated units in North Dakota, Alaska, Hawaii and across the globe.

Space Capabilities

Spacelift operations at the East and West Coast launch bases provide services, facilities and range safety control for the conduct of DOD, NASA and commercial launches. Through the command and control of all DOD satellites, satellite operators provide force-multiplying effects — continuous global coverage, low vulnerability and autonomous operations. Satellites provide essential in-theater secure communications, weather and navigational data for ground, air and fleet operations and threat warning.

Ground-based radar, Space-Based Infrared System and Defense Support Program satellites monitor ballistic missile launches around the world to guard against a surprise missile attack on North America. Space surveillance radars provide vital information on the location of satellites and space debris for the nation and the world. Maintaining space superiority is an emerging capability required to protect U.S. space assets.

Remember when VP Pence visited several countries in Latin America a few months ago?

Lots of back story items going on here. China landed in Latin America, the world knew it and did nothing. Obama? Yep… nothing and Trump is working to catch up and applying some counter-measures? This trade war thing is beginning to make some sense with China.

No Need for New ‘Imperial Powers’

Latin America experts in the Obama White House watched China’s rise in the region warily. But the administration raised little fuss publicly, sharing its concerns with leaders mostly in private.

Besides, former officials say, Washington did not have much of a counteroffer.

“I wished the whole time I was working in Latin America that any administration had as well thought-out, resourced and planned a policy as the pivot to Asia for Latin America,” said John Feeley, who recently resigned as the American ambassador to Panama after a nearly three-decade career. “Since the end of the 1980s, there really has never been a comprehensive hemispheric long-term strategy.”

While President Barack Obama was widely hailed in the region for restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba in late 2014, Washington’s agenda never ceased being dominated by two issues that have long generated resentment in Latin America: the war on drugs and illegal immigration.

***

The antenna is the centerpiece of a $50 million station built by the Chinese military. Credit Mauricio Lima for The New York Times

Meanwhile, Patagonia has a Chinese military base, for 50 years, for free.

The 450-ton device, with its hulking dish embracing the open skies, is the centerpiece of a $50 million satellite and space mission control station built by the Chinese military.

The isolated base is one of the most striking symbols of Beijing’s long push to transform Latin America and shape its future for generations to come — often in ways that directly undermine the United States’ political, economic and strategic power in the region.

The station began operating in March, playing a pivotal role in China’s audacious expedition to the far side of the moon — an endeavor that Argentine officials say they are elated to support.

But the way the base was negotiated — in secret, at a time when Argentina desperately needed investment — and concerns that it could enhance China’s intelligence gathering capabilities in the hemisphere have set off a debate in Argentina about the risks and benefits of being pulled into China’s orbit.

“Beijing has transformed the dynamics of the region, from the agendas of its leaders and businessmen to the structure of its economies, the content of its politics and even its security dynamics,” said R. Evan Ellis, a professor of Latin American studies at the United States Army War College.

Just weeks after the space station began operating in Patagonia, the United States made an announcement that raised eyebrows here in Argentina.

The Pentagon is funding a $1.3 million emergency response center in Neuquén — the same province where the Chinese base is, and the first such American project in all of Argentina. Local officials and residents wondered whether the move was a tit-for-tat response to China’s new presence in this remote part of the country. Read the full article here from the NYT’s, great work.

Speak Your Mind

*