WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force on Dec. 8 officially activated its first component dedicated to both Europe and Africa. The new unit, known as U.S. Space Forces Europe and Africa, will support U.S. European Command (EUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).

Headquartered at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, the Space Force component will be led by U.S. Space Force Col. Max Lantz and staffed by approximately 30 service members. 

The new component will support EUCOM’s growing need for space-based capabilities such as satellite navigation and communications.

With an increasing number of military assets reliant on space-based technologies, the need for specialized expertise and dedicated resources is more crucial than ever, said Gen. Chance Saltzman, chief of space operations of the U.S. Space Force. 

“We will integrate our space forces at the component level — something that will provide a cadre of space experts who can work with the Joint Force, our allies, and partners to integrate space activities into our shared operations, activities and investments,” Saltzman said.

Beyond its operational role, U.S. Space Forces Europe and Africa will also seek to foster strong partnerships with both NATO allies and African nations. 

Officials highlight importance of space domain

“The activation of the U.S. Space Forces Europe and Africa component at Ramstein Air Base emphasizes both the fast-growing military significance of the space domain and the importance of Germany as a reliable ally and base for the U.S. Armed Forces.” said Boris Pistorius, Germany’s defense minister. “For Germany, the U.S. are the most important partner in developing and expanding space capabilities.”

U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Michael Langley, commander of AFRICOM, said the presence of the Space Force “highlights our dedication to strengthening collaborative space capabilities across the African continent.”

“Our focus is not only on protecting our space assets but also on enabling and enhancing the command’s ability to provide space effects in support of our missions alongside allies and partners,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Steven Basham, deputy commander of EUCOM. 

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...