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NORTHCOM and Space Force Command testify in Congress on missile defense

Rob Quirk goes One-on-One with commander of Space Command
Posted at 10:36 PM, Feb 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-03 15:49:21-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — Two Colorado Springs military Generals testified in front of Congress on Tuesday about national security space, nuclear forces, missile defense, and prompt strikes.

Those two leaders are Four-star General James Dickinson, the current commander of U.S. Space Command at Peterson Space Force Base, and General Glen VanHerck, the commander of U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command. They will testify before the House Subcommittee on Strategic Forces.

They were also joined by Admiral Charles Richard of U.S. Strategic Command and the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Sasha Baker.

The hearing comes as Russia puts its nuclear arsenal on "high alert," following a worldwide response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The order means Putin has ordered Russia’s nuclear weapons prepared for increased readiness to launch, raising the threat that the tensions could boil over into nuclear warfare.

Sanctions placed upon Russia caused the Russian currency to drop about 30 percent on Monday.

Two Colorado representatives serve on the Armed Services Committee, Rep. Doug Lamborn (R) and Rep. Jason Crow (D).

During the hearing, Rep. Lamborn brought up concerns about Russia, China, and North Korea's missile capabilities.

"Any weakening or changes in the U.S. nuclear declaratory policy must be expressly taken off the table. Europe is embroiled in the largest war since World War II and Ukraine faces an existential threat," said Rep. Lamborn. "We cannot risk dividing NATO at this precarious time. So I implore you listen to our allies and maintain the current strong American-led strategic deterrence posture."

While the hearing took place over the backdrop of the Russian-Ukraine conflict, U.S. Space Command General Dickinson said he believed when it came to space security, China remains a 'pacing challenge,' and that the country increased its orbit assets by 27 percent in 2021. The General also addressed possible cyber attacks Russia might enact upon the U.S. and their allies during their invasion of Ukraine, saying he believes U.S. Space Command is in a comfortable position to defend from such attacks.

"At U.S. Space Command, we prepare for that every day," said General Dickinson. "...Ensuring that our global positioning satellites are state of the art and are operational to include satellite communications that we provide as well as missile warning.... We take very active measures to make sure that we are protecting ourselves and defending ourselves from cyber attacks."

Nuclear deterrence was a main topic during the hearing. General VanHerck expressed concerns that the U.S. strategy of nuclear deterrence is over reliant on a strategy that relies on imposing costs on our competitors, while not fully accounting for "the conventional capabilities our competitors have already fielded."

He said while he believes in a reliable nuclear triad, he believes that the overreliance on nuclear deterrence "increases the risk of miscalculation and escalation, because it limits our national leaders' options" in the case of a crisis or conflict.

"Our operating model that assumed we could project power globally from safe and secure Homeland is eroding and has been eroding for more than a decade in order to provide national leaders with timely and informed options that they need to achieve favorable outcomes," said General VanHerck, "We must improve our ability to detect and track potential threats anywhere in the world while delivering data to decision-makers as rapidly as possible, wherever they might be in pursuit of those goals."

Specifically, General VanHerck listed three strategic principles which he said must be integrated in deterrance:

  • All domain awareness: From undersea to orbit, to cyber
  • Information dominance: use of advanced capabilities such as machine learning and artificial intelligence to analyze and process data faster.
  • Global integration: no problem is regional anymore.

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