The US military activated its first Space Force command on foreign soil on Wednesday in South Korea, with the unit’s new commander saying he is ready to face any threat in the region.
The creation of the US Space Forces Korea gives the newest branch of the US military its first official presence on the Korean Peninsula at a time when North Korea has been testing ballistic missiles at a record pace and China has been building up its ballistic missile forces.
The new unit “will be tasked with coordinating space operations and services such as missile warning, position navigation and timing and satellite communications within the region,” according to US Forces Korea.
A ceremony to launch the new unit took place at a hangar at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, 65 kilometers (40 miles) south of Seoul, where the US 7th Air Force is based.
Asked what potential adversaries like Beijing or Pyongyang could take from the formation of the unit, Space Forces Korea commander Lt. Col. Joshua McCullion said he hoped it would have a deterrent effect. “The hope is that they see we are ready,” he said.
“Myself and my guardians are ready to go, day or night,” he said, using the official term for US Space Force members.
“That’s (the message) we want the adversary, whoever that adversary is, to take.”
McCullion acknowledged that the new force, established as a separate military branch in December 2019, has been the object of satire in the media, with some mocking its relative youth and comparing it to “Star Trek.”
But he said nobody should underestimate the force’s abilities.
“We are a young force, that’s exactly part of the game we’re playing right now. We just have to build and grow.”
Brig. Gen. Anthony Mastalir, who introduced the new unit at Wednesday’s ceremony, said it was an example of “integrated deterrence” that showcased the “unparalleled” ability of the US and its allies to project power on land, at sea, in air and now in space.
“This new command will ensure that the space capabilities enabling integrated deterrence are ready to fight tonight,” Mastalir said, adding that the force is ready to face any adversary in the new command’s area of operations.
US Army Gen. Paul LaCamera, commander of US Forces Korea, noted that both China and Russia have developed anti-satellite capabilities, while North Korea and Iran were both working against US interests in space.