War in Space

The Air Force is shifting its thinking about space as a warfighting domain. Air Force Space Command boss Gen. John Hyten said during AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando last week, that while the barriers to access in space help ward off the threat of an actual fight above the Earth’s atmosphere, “it is irresponsible not to recognize the threats” that exist. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh elaborated, saying, “We don’t want to fight a war in … space. But we certainly can’t afford to not acknowledge the fact that others are posturing to be able to do just that. And we need to adjust to that before we face the consequences.” Hyten said it is important, however, to look at any threats in space as an extension of earthly conflicts, and not as separate battles. “Conflict happens on the Earth,” he said. “If something is going on in space, that means something really bad is happening on the Earth” and it has extended into the space realm. Hyten added that a worst-case scenario conflict would be a kinetic war in space, because of the debris such a situation would generate. “Debris is bad for us and bad for the world and bad for generations that are to come,” he said.