Space war: US army chief warns 'next Pearl Harbour’ could be in space amid China tensions

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General Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, cited space warfare as an area of concern when asked about the vulnerabilities of modern technologies used by the military. Speaking to the Brookings Institution, he listed protecting electricity, the internet and space as important issues.

He said: “Space as a domain, for example, is critical.

“There’s an argument to be made and many have made it in various unclassified writings that a country might try to seek a first move or advantage, for example, to blind the United States.

“The next Pearl Harbour could happen in space, [as] many people have written.”

Brandon J.Weichert wrote a 2019 essay titled ‘Preparing for a Russian ‘Space Pearl Harbor’’, which appeared in Orbis.

 giant supernova that is smothered in its own dust

Artist’s impression of giant supernova smothered in its own dust (Image: Getty)

General Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

General Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Image: Getty)

He states the US “depends on satellites more than any other country in the world for its most basic functions”.

Weichert lists military communications, early missile warning systems and civilian banking transactions as reliant on satellites.

He adds that taking away the “instantaneous communication and coordination” the satellites provide would render the US military “deaf, dumb and blind”.

In a separate piece for the New York Post, Weichert suggests “Beijing or Moscow could use their technological might to rewrite the geopolitical order in their favour”.

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He states the US “depends on satellites more than any other country in the world for its most basic functions”. Weichert lists military communications

A comet flies over Greece (Image: Getty)

He uses the hypothetical example of US forces patrolling the South China Sea coming under attack but being unable to call for reinforcements because their satellites have been destroyed.

General Milley echoed those suggestions, pointing out: “If you took out say a series of satellites that were key to our communication systems, our command and control systems or our navigation systems, our precision, navigation and timing system, that could potentially have a devastating effect and could encourage some country to try to do something like an electronic Pearl Harbour with either electronic warfare systems or attack in space.”

He added that the US military recognises the threats and is “moving at a very quick pace” to shore them up.

A senior RAF chief said he believes future wars would likely be “won or lost” in space.

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Saturn, Mars and Jupiter in conjunction in the dawn twilight, taken in Alberta (Image: Getty)

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Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston said it would be “negligent” if the UK was not prepared to fight in this dynamic.

Speaking at the virtual Defence Space Conference last month, the Chief of Air Staff (CAS) said Russia and China are developing anti-satellite weapons.

He said: “A future conflict may not start in space, but I am in no doubt it will transition very quickly to space, and it may even be won or lost in space.

“So we have to be ready to protect and if necessary defend our critical national interests in space.

President Donald J. Trump listens to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Mark Milley

President Trump listens to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Mark Milley (Image: Getty)

“If we don’t think and prepare today, we won’t be ready when the time comes.”

He added: “Space is critical to the day to day life of every citizen of the UK.

“Without space there would be no bank transactions, no cash out of an ATM, no petrol in the pumps, traffic gridlock, a malfunctioning national grid to list just a few examples.

“In the context of COVID 19, around 15 million items of NHS PPE are delivered every day and the delivery of these vital items are dependent upon space, as will be the immense logistics effort supporting a future vaccine.”



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