NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. --
Chief of Space Operations, Gen. Chance Saltzman, offered a portrait of space on Sept. 12 that is increasingly crowded and dangerous, requiring new thinking, innovation and unity of action to ensure America’s security and stability in the space domain.
“The domain is now more contested than at any other point in history. This was the genesis of the Space Force—a military service focused on addressing the challenges and opportunities we face in the space domain. We were created for this new space era—an era increasingly characterized by great power competition,” Saltzman told a large audience of Guardians, Airmen, industry and government officials during his keynote address at the Air & Space Forces Association’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference.
Meeting that challenge is the reason the Space Force was created nearly four years ago as the nation’s sixth military service. It’s also the reason that the service’s newly announced mission statement—“Secure our Nation’s Interests In, From, and To Space”— is important, he said.
The mission statement, Saltzman said, is a clear and focused touchstone for what the Space Force is and why its performance matters. It also is a catalyst for unity of thought and action, he said.
“It’s simple, it’s direct and it clearly reflects our purpose and identity as Guardians,” he said. “This new mission statement defines the ‘why’ of the Space Force,” he said.
Yet, even with a clear and direct mission statement, meeting the challenges in space now and in the future is both complex and difficult, Saltzman said.
“Establishing the Space Force to focus on a contested space domain was a critical step,” he said. “Now we must focus our efforts on a purpose-built Space Force for great power competition.”
Saltzman explained that being able to operate effectively and reliably in space is critical to virtually everything the U.S. military and its allies do, whether the action is on ground, at sea, in the air or cyber.
“Only the U.S. Space Force can provide these truly world-wide capabilities our forces absolutely require as they defend U.S. and allied interests around the world. In short, the joint force needs global communications, indications and warning, and precision,” he said.
Ensuring those capabilities are available, without fail, is important beyond simply satisfying a specific need from a combatant commander, Saltzman said.
“We are living in complex strategic times, and space is critical at this inflection point,” he said. “The conflict in Ukraine has made it clear: access to, and use of, space is fundamental to modern war. It is also clear that technology is not a force enabler on its own. It is about the readiness of the forces using that technology that will tip the scales toward success.”
The capabilities made possible by space—and delivered by Space Force—are the backbone of a strong and proven deterrence, and adapting the Space Force to all its critical, failsafe missions hinges on one factor above all others, the capabilities and performance of Guardians.
“In order to continue building our service for great power competition, I need Guardians who will challenge the status quo. I need Guardians who are problem solvers. I need Guardians who will articulate the roadblocks they have to their leadership and I need Guardians who will aggressively tackle our problems as a team,” he said.
Guardians, he said, “are the real strength” driving everything Space Force does and aspires to achieve.
“Your character, connection, courage and commitment is why I am so confident that the Space Force is ready to meet any threat.”