From left to right: Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett and Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond speak July 21 on an Atlantic Council virtual event. Credit: Atlantic Council.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett on July 21 rolled out a strategy for how air and space forces will prepare for operations in the Arctic, a region of the world where Russia and China are trying to grow their influence.

Speaking during an Atlantic Council virtual event, Barrett said the strategy “recognizes the immense geostrategic consequence of the region and its critical role for protecting the homeland and projecting global power.”

Barrett spoke alongside Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein and Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond.

“This is a really, really important strategy for space,” said Raymond.

He noted that Space Force units at Thule Air Base, Greenland, monitor missile launches, track space objects in orbit, and command and control satellites. There are also Space Force units at Clear Air Force Station in Alaska that operate a radar station for detecting incoming missiles and for tracking space debris.

The Arctic region, like outer space, is becoming a “congested neighborhood,” said Raymond. “There’s a lot of a lot of parallels between the Arctic and space,” he said. “We want to deter conflict from occurring both in space and through the Arctic.”

The Space Force is investing in satellites to provide secure and continuous communications in the North Polar Region, Raymond said. The Space and Missile Systems Center signed a partnership with Space Norway to host U.S. broadband communications payloads on that nation’s satellites.

According to the strategy, the Space Force will be responsible for the following:

  • Work closely with allies, partners, and the private sector to establish mutually beneficial relationships that address common goals in space and the Arctic region.
  • Develop new technologies and modernize existing assets in the Arctic necessary to ensure access to and freedom to operate in space.
  • Develop capabilities to mitigate and predict environmental disturbances unique to the Arctic region.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...