The key mission for the US space program is to fight war, but because much of US space infrastructure was developed in an era “when space was considered a benign environment, little thought was given to system protection or defense,” said Brig. Gen. Stephen Whiting Friday in Washington, D.C. Speaking at an AFA Mitchell Institute event, Whiting said as a result the US is unprepared to protect and defend its space assets. “Today the US space enterprise is not resilient enough to successfully prosecute or even survive a high-end conflict that extends into space,” Whiting said. Calling US space programs “absolutely foundational and indelible to the American way of war,” Whiting discussed a plan that would “provide the United States with space capabilities that can help deter a war from extending into space and to ensure that we prevail” if one ever does. Central to that vision would be the move from a technology replacement model focused on “functional availability”—or the lifecycle and maintenance of a satellite—to one of “resilience capacity,” where decisions are made based upon the ability of systems to defend themselves from potential attack.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.