With a space command for Europe and Africa stationed in Ramstein, Rhineland-Palatinate, the US military is preparing for conflicts in space. The unit was officially commissioned on Friday at a ceremony at the air base in the Kaiserslautern district. The command, led by US Colonel Max Lantz, initially has 30 employees. They are intended to help protect critical infrastructure such as telecommunications and navigation and “deter potential adversaries, respond to crises and strengthen alliances and partnerships,” as it was said.

The importance of satellite infrastructure has increased in recent decades, said General Chance Saltzman, head of Space Command. This not only affects the military – everyday life is also no longer conceivable without technical support from weightlessness – such as GPS. “We have reached a point where it would be difficult to give up these resources. Knowing the dangers, the Space Force exists.” General Michael Langley, in charge of Africa, said at the ceremony: “We are on guard.”

According to the law, the Space Force is supposed to ensure the USA’s freedom of operations in space and protect the interests of Americans there. The task of the armed forces is therefore also to ward off aggression in and from the cosmos and to carry out operations there.

Lieutenant General: “Historic moment”

Lieutenant General Steven Basham spoke of a “historic moment” in Ramstein. “It took a long time, but it’s coming at the right time.” We see challenges not only from the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine, but also, for example, from the climate crisis or the question of nutrition programs for Africa, for example.

Washington sees the activation as a milestone on the way to strengthening shared space capabilities in Europe and Africa.

The Space Force was launched as a separate US branch of the armed forces in 2019 by then US President Donald Trump. It is the sixth independent branch of the US armed forces, alongside the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

The then US Vice President Mike Pence – who pushed the project forward – emphasized at the time that the Space Force would make America and the world safer. “Our freedom to operate safely in space is critical to our way of life. Modern communications, commerce, weather forecasting and even agriculture depend in large part on the security of our space resources,” he wrote in a newspaper article at the time.