Nominee To Lead Space Force Shares Vision

Sep.20 (Reuters) – The Space Force nominee was recently grilled by a US Senate committee over growing military threats from China and his vision for the fledgling service, which has a strong presence in Colorado Springs.

If confirmed by the US Senate Armed Services Committee, Lt. Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, deputy chief of space operations, would replace General John “Jay” Raymond, who is retiring after 38 years in the military. Saltzman has experience in missile and space systems and as a satellite operator. He has also served as chief of combat plans for the Joint Space Operations Center and later as chief of combat operations, according to the Space Force.

During the recent Senate hearing, Saltzman emphasized the growing competition in space and the importance of a strong deterrent.

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“We must clearly recognize that our strategic competitors have invested heavily in field systems that can disrupt, disrupt and even destroy our space capabilities,” he said.

He described China as the fast-moving threat aggressively pursuing opportunities to attack US satellites.

A report by the Defense Intelligence Agency showed that China’s satellite fleet grew from more than 200 to nearly 500 from 2019 to 2021. Russia’s fleet is growing far more slowly, the report showed.

Saltzman would like a more distributed architecture of US satellites that would be harder to attack as part of a more resilient and defensible system, he said.

“One of my main goals is to make sure a war doesn’t expand into space. This is not a good day for the United States,” he said.

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In addition to the risks, Saltzman was asked about building a culture within the 16,000-strong Space Force and providing appropriate training opportunities.

Saltzman said Space Force members could be lost to the private sector over time, and this is where a strong culture will be key.

“This is about giving them a challenging job,” he said.

He would also like to provide better training facilities such as simulators that would allow Guardians to practice tactics against thinking opponents.

Space Force’s ability to work with small businesses was also of interest to senators, and Saltzman said he was interested in relationships that would foster innovation, regardless of vendor size.

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“Innovation will be critical to the success of Space Force,” he said.

The space sector is a major employment engine for the state, with 300 space agencies and nearly 35,000 residents employed in the space industry, according to the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation.

Committee chair Jack Reed, D.-Rhode Island, said a vote on Saltzman’s appointment as the next chief of space operations would take place as soon as possible.

US Space Force spokeswoman Lt. Col. Brooke Davis said a timeline for the vote has not yet been determined.


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