WASHINGTON — U.S. Space Command, the Defense Department’s combatant command responsible for space operations, has achieved full operational capability, its commander Gen. James Dickinson announced Dec. 15.

In short, this means that U.S. Space Command is now fully up and running. It has the staff, infrastructure and plans it needs to handle its mission of conducting space operations and protecting American and allied assets and interests in space.

U.S. Space Command, established in 2019 in Colorado Springs, is tasked to monitor space activity and threats, support other military units with space capabilities like communications and surveillance, respond to crises involving space, deter aggression and defeat enemies if needed.

The declaration that it has reached full operational capability comes after an extensive evaluation of the command’s ability to carry out its mission, Dickinson said, including the ability to execute operations “on our worst day, when we are needed most.”

Dickinson said the command just completed a large-scale wargaming exercise with U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, “which served as a major step in validating the headquarters staff as a ready, joint force.”

While declaring full operational capability is a milestone, Dickinson said, more work lies ahead as the complexity of space operations continues to grow. The command will need additional resources to keep pace with emerging threats from rival nations, he said.

Fight continues over headquarters location

U.S. Space Command’s declaration of full operational capability comes amid a nearly three-year political battle over the location of its headquarters. President Joe Biden in July said that the headquarters would remain at Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado Springs, reversing plans made under former President Donald Trump to move it to Redstone Arsenal, in Huntsville, Alabama.

So while the Space Command now says it has the staff and capabilities to carry out missions, its long-term home base is still caught up in partisan Washington fights. Congress in the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act passed this week included language barring Space Command from spending money on a new Colorado Springs headquarters building until further investigation of Biden’s basing decision is completed.

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...