U.S. Military Opens Space Force Unit in S.Korea

  • Defensemirror.com Bureau
  • 10:28 AM, December 14, 2022
  • 946
U.S. Military Opens Space Force Unit in S.Korea

The U.S. military launched U.S. Space Forces Korea, a component unit of the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), near Seoul on December 14.

USFK Commander Gen. Paul LaCamera hosted a ceremony to mark the launch of the new unit at a hangar at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, 65km south of Seoul, which is home to the U.S. 7th Air Force.

The U.S. Space Forces Korea (SPACEFOR-KOR) said it will be “tasked with coordinating space operations and services such as missile warning, position navigation and timing, and satellite communications within the region.” It will “provide space planning and employment expertise, as well as space command and control to the commander of U.S. Forces Korea.”

"The activation here today of U.S. Space Forces Korea ... enhances our ability to defend the homeland, and should ensure peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia," LaCamera said at a ceremony. "Because of U.S. Space Forces Korea, the alliance is better able to execute multidomain operations in the Korean theater of operations."

The new component field command, led by Lt. Col. Joshua McCullion, will serve as a sub-unit to the U.S. Space Forces Indo-Pacific, which was established last month. It is one of the few Space Force units to be established outside the U.S. mainland.

Commander of the US Space Forces Indo-Pacific Brig. Gen. Anthony Mastalir was quoted as saying by Yonhap that the unit will undergo analysis in the coming months to assess its mission capabilities and said it is interested in holding discussions with South Korea regarding specific future missions, like missile warning and defense.

The new unit is expected to help monitor, detect and trace projectiles from the North and elsewhere in an operation likely to reinforce overall deterrence capabilities of the South Korea-U.S. alliance, observers said.

The unit's activation represents an effort by the U.S. military to secure multi-domain warfighting capabilities to cover threats from all realms, including air, land, sea, cyberspace and outer space.

It joins other five components of the USFK -- the Eighth Army, the Seventh Air Force, the Naval Forces Korea, the Marine Forces Korea and the Special Operations Command Korea.

South Korea's Air Force established an integrated unit for space operations at the air base earlier this month, raising expectations for stronger space security cooperation with the U.S. military.

“The satellites collect intelligence, warn of North Korean missile launches, provide communications, monitor ROK/US operations, potentially participate in information operations against North Korea, and in the future providing advanced missile defense. … Again, most of these functions are not new,” Bruce Bennett, a defense researcher at the RAND Corporation and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School, was quoted as saying by The Korea Herald.

“Satellites can detect ballistic missile launches and send that information directly to the missile defense radars so that they can detect North Korean missiles, coordinate with other radars, and obtain an optimal firing solution for their interceptors. This will reduce the number of North Korean missiles able to penetrate the missile defense,” he added.

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