Space Force is branching out with new subordinate command in Japan
Stars and Stripes August 30, 2023
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — The U.S. Space Force is planning to expand its footprint in the Indo-Pacific region with a new subordinate command in Japan, a senior enlisted leader said Wednesday.
The service was boosting its space cooperation with allied forces, including Japan, where a new component command “should be standing up [there] shortly,” Master Sgt. Shawn Stafford of U.S. Space Forces Korea said during a news conference at Osan.
The Space Force’s goal is to “synchronize our efforts within the greater [area of responsibility]” in the Indo-Pacific and to “make sure that we’re getting the best possible picture to our alliance,” he said.
Stafford and Space Forces Korea’s deputy commander, Maj. Charles Taylor, said a small number of Guardians already work in Japan, but he declined to specify how many more are expected and where the new command will be based.
The Space Force held its first engagement talks with its Japan Air Self-Defense Force counterparts in July at Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo, according to a Space Force news release.
“The US-Japan Space Engagement Talks represent a further expansion of our strong alliance into the space domain,” U.S. Space Forces Indo-Pacific commander Brig. Gen. Anthony Mastalir, said in the release on July 18. “Through these talks and space working groups to follow, we can build a roadmap for cooperation to ensure safety and security in space for our nations and all responsible actors.”
News of the Space Force’s plans in Japan come nearly two weeks after President Joe Biden, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida held a trilateral summit at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.
The leaders agreed to “enhance trilateral dialogue on space security cooperation, particularly regarding threats in the space domain, national space strategies, and the responsible use of space,” according to a joint statement.
Space Forces Korea, the service’s first subordinate command in the Far East, was established in December at Osan. Its purpose is to coordinate “space operations and services such as missile warning, position navigation and timing, and satellite communications within the region,” U.S. Forces Korea said in a statement during its ceremonial opening.
One month prior, Space Forces Indo-Pacific was activated at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii.
Since Space Forces Korea’s inception, U.S. and South Korean military commanders in the country have been more aware of what capabilities the service is able to provide, such as surveillance of the region, Taylor said.
“We have an adversarial presence north of us, and so it is upon us to provide [that] expertise — integrated and synchronized with all components within this [area],” he said.