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The developing stage for warfare is in cyberspace, but the next stage could well grow in a familiar frontier – space. The modern world is not merely using outer space, it’s utterly reliant on it. From GPS to communication satellites, we use space to relay messages, gather intel, control sophisticated machinery from across the globe – and knocking these targets out can be a very attractive prospect for a rogue actor.
A recent report from the Center for a New American Security highlights precisely these vulnerabilities and calls on the Pentagon to change its strategy with it comes to safeguarding space-bound strategic resources. The report warns that China, Russia, and other rivals to the West have noticed our reliance on space and are plotting ways to exploit it.
Space is “becoming a domain like any other — air, sea, land, and electromagnetic — in which the United States will have to compete and fight the ability to access and exploit the domain rather than assume safe and uncontested passage within and use of it,” the report reads.
Satellites, the reports states, are threatened not only by missiles, but by cyberwarfare and electronic attacks. as well. Speaking with The Washington Post, the report’s author, Elbridge Colby (former adviser to Mitt Romney), said that even if adversaries don’t shoot down satellites, they will look for ways to disable them.
The US must consider not only how to protect its assets in space, the report advises, but what to do if and when these assets are destroyed. A possible solution could come from a return to Cold War doctrine. Back then, the threat was that in the case of an attack in space, the US would reply with a major attack outside it. Colby suggests a return to such a policy to prevent disaster.