US Space Force finally creates targeting unit – better late than never, right?
No rush on this seemingly vital component of defense, guys
It's taken a few years, but the US Space Force finally has a unit dedicated to target analysis, development, and engagement.
While one would assume a targeting squadron would be a fundamental part of establishing a Space Force, the 75th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Squadron (ISRS) only stood up last week at Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado – nearly four years after the branch was established.
"The idea of this unit began four years ago on paper and has probably been in the minds of several US Air Force intelligence officers even longer," said 75th ISRS commander Lt. Col. Travis Anderson. "Today is a monumental time in the history of our service."
The 75th has three mission focuses with regards to Space Force targets, as mentioned above: analysis, development, and engagement. That doesn't necessarily mean they'd be the ones shooting enemy satellites out of the sky, though. The 75th's goal "is to prepare and present intelligence packages about a target and the system it is a part of," the Defense Department said.
The packages provided by the 75th could include information about satellites themselves, their ground stations, and the signals broadcast between the two.
"The 75th ISRS conducts advanced analysis on adversary space force and counter-space force threats along with their associated architectures," Anderson noted. He described space forces as any space capability used by a nation to facilitate warfighting, and counter-space threats as anything designed to deny the US the ability to use its own satellite systems.
In other words, the 75th's targets could include any space or ground-based system designed to interfere with or destroy US space resources.
The 75th falls under Space Delta 7 (deltas are the USSF's divisional equivalent of a brigade), which is responsible for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance roles. Orbital warfare responsibilities belong to Space Delta 9, meaning that may be the Delta responsible for carrying out engagement against enemy space forces and counterforces.
We contacted the USSF to ask some questions about the 75th ISRS, but didn't immediately hear back.
Just another space farce
When President Biden nominated Lt. Gen. B. Chance Saltzman to head up the USSF in 2022, the general made clear who he considered the greatest threat to US space operations: China.
- Report reveals US Space Force unprepared to counter orbital threats
- China can destroy US space assets, Space Force ops nominee warns
- US Space Force deploys robot dogs at Cape Canaveral base
- US Space Force unit to monitor region beyond Earth's geosynchronous orbit
"The Chinese … are aggressively pursuing capabilities that can disrupt, degrade, and ultimately even destroy our satellite capabilities and disrupt our ground infrastructure," Saltzman said during his confirmation hearing. He still serves as USSF commander.
The Middle Kingdom demonstrated its ability to shoot down its own satellites way back in 2007, and has allegedly deployed a satellite with a grappling arm that could be used to capture other satellites or disrupt their orbits.
Russia, similarly, has blown up its own satellites, and both China and Russia have threatened to treat civilian satellites as legitimate targets if used in military operations (e.g. Starlink in Ukraine).
A think tank study concluded in late June that the USSF was utterly unprepared to deal with such threats. Contributing factors behind that determination may include the fact that – until last week – the branch lacked a unit dedicated to collecting actionable intelligence about potential targets. ®