In recent months, Russia managed to destroy one of its satellites in low Earth orbit with a missile, and China managed to launch a hypersonic-powered vehicle around the world. As General Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said of the Chinese test flight, we are “very close” to a Sputnik moment as a nation in space warfare.
What we see in space and in missile systems will change the nature of warfare the same way airplanes and submarines changed warfare in World War I, or nuclear weapons ended in World War II and ushered in the Cold War. This is a watershed moment for US military space superiority.
Our potential adversaries are rapidly reducing our competitive advantages in all domains – air, land, sea, space and cyber. Red countries like Iran and North Korea seek to destabilize their regions and strive to develop nuclear weapons capabilities. The Russian nuclear program has undergone a major modernization of all three parts of its triad, in addition to their testing of an anti-satellite weapon. China is experiencing a rapid and unprecedented nuclear build-up, in addition to its trials of new hypersonic vehicles that are harder to detect and stop than traditional ballistic missiles.
It is increasingly clear that China and Russia want to shape a world that conforms to their authoritarian model. Our adversaries are advancing and America must step up.
The Strategic Forces Sub-Committee, of which I have just become a senior member, plays a key role in these matters. I have the honor of being the only congressman from Colorado to have ever served as a ranking member or chair of this vital subcommittee. The subcommittee oversees the nuclear weapons business, missile defense, military space, and hypersonic vehicles. It was also the subcommittee that created the Space Force.
In this subcommittee, we strive to ensure that the Departments of Defense and Energy are prepared to respond to a rapidly changing and increasingly dangerous world, using both capabilities offensive and defensive. New technologies, including hypersonic vehicles, directed energy and advanced strategic warning systems, will be front and center.
Our nuclear triad remains vital to prevent major conflicts between the great powers and its modernization is of crucial importance. Furthermore, we must continue to ensure that our missile defenses are able to protect the homeland, as well as our combatants around the world. The recent conflict between Israel and Hamas has taught us that missile defense is essential to the protection of civilians and other property and gives our political leaders extra decision time to weigh the options.
Colorado is the epicenter of national defense space, home to many major military installations, including branches of the Space Force, Air Force, and Army. In Colorado Springs, Cheyenne Mountain Space Force Station provides resilience for nuclear command and control and North American missile defense. US Northern Command, which is tasked with detecting, deterring and defeating threats to the homeland, operates from Space Force Base Peterson. Peterson is also currently home to the Acting Space Command, which many of us in Colorado believe should have permanent residence in Colorado. Schriever Space Force Base activates the global economic marketplace by providing GPS signals for banking, commerce, shipping, and everyday communications and navigation. It is also home to the National Space Defense Center which is responsible for protecting and defending the United States’ critical infrastructure in space.
Buckley Space Force Base, located in Aurora, supports the collection of critical intelligence for global operations. It is also the headquarters of the command of the Space Force Missile Warning Forces which monitor international nuclear treaties and warn our country in the event of a foreign nuclear attack, and Fort Carson is home to the 10th Special Forces Group which trains for special missions, such as the fight to protect the United States from weapons of mass destruction.
Space was until recently considered a sanctuary, a peaceful domain. The Russians and Chinese are rapidly changing and militarizing this environment. As we enter a new era, America must focus on great power competition in all of these critical areas.
Colorado is ready to fight this fight in our armed forces, especially in space. With the bipartisan support of our two US Senators and Representative Jason Crow, who also sits on the House Armed Services Committee, I will ensure that our defense priorities prepare us for the combat of the future. Our brave fighters must have the resources they need to carry out their mission.
Doug Lamborn is a U.S. Representative from the 5th Congressional District in El Paso, Fremont, Teller, Park, and Chaffee counties. He was first elected in 2006.
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