US Space Command Has Passed First Combat Test, Officials Say – By Richard Sisk (Military.com) / Jan 20 2020
The newly created U.S. combatant command focused on space has passed its initial combat test, according to officials and experts. Early warning capabilities belonging to the command helped detect recent Iranian ballistic missile launches at U.S. bases in Iraq, contributing to an early warning advantage for troops on the ground.
In a statement to Military.com earlier this week, U.S. Space Command officials pointed to the vast array of interlocking space and ground sensors, mostly inherited from the Air Force, that are now in the command’s domain. The capabilities serve to detect and track ballistic missiles worldwide. Officials did not, however, specify which particular system first picked up the launches.
But U.S. official speaking on background and several experts said the first signs of a launch almost certainly came from the Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS), a capability generated by four satellites operated by the 460th Space Wing at Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado.
In the SPACECOM statement, a spokesperson for the new command described in general terms the “multitude of systems that contribute to worldwide missile warning and detection capabilities to protect the nation” and deployed troops.
In its mission, the new command coordinated with the Missile Warning Center, the Joint Overhead Persistent Infrared Planning Center, the Combined Space Operations Center, and the Joint Tactical Ground Stations deployed by the Army to provide worldwide “theater ballistic missile warning and enhanced infrared coverage,” the spokesperson said.
On Jan. 9, the day after Iran launched 16 ballistic missiles at two bases in Iraq housing U.S. and Iraqi troops, President Donald Trump said simply that U.S. troops were protected by “an early warning system that worked very well.”
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameinei, said the missile launches were a “slap in the face” to the U.S. in response to the Jan. 5 drone strike at Baghdad’s International Airport that killed Iranian Quds Force leader Qasem Soleimani.