BOURNE — Cape Cod Air Force Station has a new name but its deadly earnest mission remains the same: protecting the US and its allies from attacks launched from space or on Earth by its superpower rivals.
At a renaming ceremony Friday morning, the installation officially changed its name to Cape Cod Space Force Station, which will continue to serve as the home of the 6th Space Warning Squadron.
“The return of great power competition is real,” said Lt. Gen. Nina M. Armagno, director of staff, headquarters, United States Space Force (USSF). “The global security environment has changed and space is right in the middle of it. Space is no longer a benign environment. Both Russia and China are actively building systems that will counter us in space.”
The United States is already aware that Russia and China are building their cyber and nuclear capabilities but, “in space, it is getting pretty intense,” Armagno said.
Renaming the station is an important step in establishing the culture and identity of the United States Space Force, Armagno said.
“It is also a powerful signal to our nation, allies, and adversaries that we are prepared to deter, fight, and win the United States space war,” Armagno said. “We will always be one team, a no-fail team.”
The 6th Space Warning Squadron’s mission is to survey air and space to detect, track and report missile launches and high-satellite interest passes.
The Chinese and the Russians are encroaching technologically on the United States, said U.S. Rep. William Keating, D-9th, one of the speakers at the ceremony.
“That threat is really real,” Keating said. “The effects of that can be devastating, not just in our military actions but also protecting our grids and basic infrastructure at home that can affect the private side and our daily lives.”
To protect the US, the nation has satellites in three-tier orbits around the globe. The closest houses the intelligence surveillance reconnaissance systems, which the military uses to keep an eye on a region to locate an enemy or ascertain strategic features. The middle one houses the GPS systems.
In geosynchronous orbit, farthest from the Earth’s surface, are housed some of the nation’s highest value assets of strategic missile warning satellites and strategic communication satellites.
“By the year 2025, which is right around the corner, (the Russians and Chinese) will be able to threaten us in every orbital regime,” Armagno said.
The station on Cape began life on Oct. 1, 1979 as an outpost in the Cold War, home to the only land-based East Coast radar in the United States.
The site was the first Pave PAWS installation in the country. “Pave” is a program name for electronics systems and “PAWS” stands for phased array warning system. Pave PAWS radar monitors and tracks over 30,000 earth-orbiting objects to enable space domain awareness and continuously provides crucial missile warning and space surveillance data to the U.S. Space Command and coalition partners.
The station was first made to protect the United States from the threats of nuclear warheads crossing continents and then again when submarine warfare advanced and ballistic missiles created logistical problems, Keating said.
“Now, we face an even greater threat, in my view,” Keating said.
Using the human body as an analogy, Keating said that this new mission is the neurological part of that.
“It is the connector, the impulse, and everything else in our defense system,” he said.
Not only does this satellite system help with the threat of terrorism and terrorist activity, but it can also detect nuclear stockpiles around the world and provides troops on the ground vital information on moving logistically and communications, Keating said. In the era of climate change it affects not only the military, but the important meteorological assets the country has in space as well, he said.
“It is the area frankly (where) our enemies and our adversaries have closed the ground to the greatest extent,” Keating said.
It is not just the technology that the United States has an advantage in, Keating said, it is the personnel.
“The mission couldn’t be more important, and I’m so proud to have it here right on Cape Cod, with its history of beating back decades of challenges,” Keating said.
Contact Beth Treffeisen at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @BTreffeisenCCT.
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