In March 2018, the Military Times reported another of Trump’s apparently casual observations that ‘space is becoming a “war-fighting domain”, adding later that at first he wasn’t serious when he floated the concept, but “then I said what a great idea, maybe we’ll have to do that.”
Five months later the Department of Defense released a report explaining how it intends to create the Space Force and Trump repeatedly stressed the need for American dominance in space.
In a January 2019 White House government briefing announcing his vision, though liberally using terms like protection and defense, President Trump said “we will recognize that space is a new warfighting domain, with the Space Force leading the way.” This ‘Unified Combatant Command’ will ‘protect US interests’ in space.
The voice of sanity:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology astronautics professor and former NASA deputy administrator Dava Newman said she prefers space to be as peaceful as possible: “Space is for exploration and lifting up humanity. We should learn from our mistakes on Earth and keep space peaceful.”
Good for business – developing a new arsenal, Star Wars 2 ?
On October 6th, in The Spectator’s inaugural US edition, James Adams comments: “In the new space race, victory won’t mean landing on the moon or sending a rocket to Mars, but developing a new arsenal to wage and win war in space”. This would include extending the range of orbital surveillance networks and producing weapons to attack space systems in orbit (anti-satellite weapons), to attack targets on the earth from space or to disable missiles travelling through space. Read more here.
Space Force’s stated mission is to protect American space assets and, in the first stages of a new war, destroy enemy satellites. All US military communications are dependent on satellites, as are 90% of communications intercepts and other forms of intelligence gathering. If they were knocked out, it would be almost impossible for the Pentagon to wage war.
Mr Adams reminds us that the militarization of space is regulated, in theory, by the Outer Space Treaty, created in 1967 by the United States, Russia and Britain, and signed subsequently by another 106 countries. He adds: “It governs the peaceful exploration of space and bans the placing of nuclear weapons there. But it didn’t ban the placement of conventional weapons in orbit, and it could not foresee all of the technological changes that, by altering the balance of power in space, threaten to alter the geopolitical balance on earth”.
Since 2013, Russia has launched three satellites that US intelligence believes may carry Anti-Satellite (ASAT) weapons and Adams reports that ‘sources’ have told him that the US intelligence community is certain that Russia, China and India already have ASAT capabilities, and that North Korea and Iran have programs in development.
The most recent official announcement:(29.8.19): “Department of Defense Establishes U.S. Space Command says: “At the direction of the President of the United States, Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper established U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM) today as the eleventh Unified Combatant Command”. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. said, “This step puts us on a path to maintain a competitive advantage in this critical war fighting domain.”
USSPACECOM standup ceremony at Petersen Air Force base
The United States Space Command website reports that ‘Joint and coalition’ space officials from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States attended a ceremony to recognize the establishment of Combined Force Space Component Command (CFSCC) at Vandenberg on Oct. 1, 2019
Only Peter Lazenby, in the Morning Star, in two recent articles, appears to think that this news is of any significance. He writes, “The British government is complicit in the US military’s plans, partly by its association with the NATO military alliance and partly by the presence of US military bases within the country, which will be involved in the space militarisation project.”.
He reported that a nationwide week of action to “Keep Space for Peace” was launched last Saturday as part of worldwide protests against extra-planetary militarisation. Oxfordshire Peace Campaign targeted the US intelligence-gathering base at RAF Croughton, on the Oxfordshire-Northamptonshire border.
Today, Lazenby reports, campaigners will hold a peace vigil outside RAF Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire, a US base run by the US National Security Agency, which gathers military, political and financial information communicated by spy satellites circling the Earth and feeds it to the Pentagon. (Right: meticulous report by Steven Schofield)
The Spectator’s James Adams’ sardonic comment: “Down here on the ground, it’s a good idea to buy a wind-up radio and keep that landline phone connection. And get a road atlas, just in case”.
Many will fear far more extensive repercussions from President Trump’s latest inspiration
Some comments made by a few people who read the first draft follow:
- absolutely fascinating
- very well written
- the numbers are a revelation
- hugely informative
- a remarkable account of the growth of America’s ‘reach’ and strategy since the 2nd World War
Lifting the Lid on Menwith Hill: The Strategic Roles & Economic Impact of the US Spy Base in Yorkshire, by Dr Steve Schofield – published by Yorkshire CND, March 2012
Right away the reader is drawn into the complex subterfuge of the world of national and international security by being informed that ‘RAF’ Menwith Hill has precious little to do with the Royal Air Force of popular perception or even the UK despite its location in Yorkshire. Menwith Hill is run by the US National Security Agency and is the largest secret intelligence gathering facility on foreign soil – but there are many more.
The NSA is a global network for information gathering and analysis by highly qualified personnel and supercomputers. It is responsible for Signals Intelligence (SIGNINT) worldwide. Processed data is sent to NSA HQ at Fort Meade, Maryland and used in pursuit of America’s global interests – military and commercial.
“The NSA sits at the apex of the Military Industrial Intelligence Complex (MIIC) with the capacity now, to carry out the surveillance of all forms of electronic communication, while operating in total secrecy,” the author Dr Steve Schofield informs us.
Having thus established the enormity and complexity of the beast before him, Dr Schofield explains that his task was to investigate the claims made by both US and UK Governments that Menwith Hill provides huge financial benefits (£160 million in 2010) to the local and wider community.
He endeavours to do just that for most of the rest of his report with a wealth of gathered and analysed data worthy of an insider privy to ‘official’ sources of information. His enquiry into what the base is actually there for draws on the work done previously by local peace groups, MPs and MEPs. Like them, his efforts always come up against the impenetrable barrier of secrecy imposed by the undefined ‘needs of security and importance of counter terrorism’.
His findings are a challenge to officialdom but they are presented with the calm authority of the academic requesting that his thesis be given fair consideration and a reasoned response. The author suggests that the 1,800 US personnel working on site are primarily self-sustaining, economically and materially and that the claimed financial benefit to the local community could be over-estimated by 50%. Moreover, that the British taxpayer is effectively subsidising the occupying forces with free health care and education and by MoD infrastructure and North Yorkshire Constabulary costs.
Dr Schofield sets out 11 detailed recommendations in an effort to encourage wider debate with the underlying charge, hard to refute on this accumulation of evidence, that ‘there is no accountability through the UK Parliament’ with regard to goings-on at ‘RAF’ Menwith Hill.
Lifting the Lid will be launched at a public meeting in Harrogate, Yorkshire (UK) on 1 March
NATO Watch is an independent, not-for-profit ‘virtual’ think-tank which examines the role of NATO in public life and advocates for more openness, transparency and accountability within the Alliance. See its detailed Frequently Asked Questions and Vision and Mission.