The head of US Space Command said Saturday that the "Chinese" are the top "pacing threat" facing the US not only on Earth but also in space. "Our pacing threat is the Chinese, so we are watching how they are growing their space capability," said Army Gen. James Dickinson said in Tokyo during a visit to US Forces Japan.
Space Command is different than the military branch known as Space Force. The command integrates other military branches for space operations and would oversee any future wars in space. "The Space Force is responsible for organizing and equipping space forces. We are about warfighting," Dickinson said, explaining the difference between the two organizations.
The Pentagon recently identified China as the top "pacing threat" facing the US military, a phrase US military leaders are now repeating.
Beijing is serving the Pentagon as a reason to justify massive military spending. After President Biden requested an all-time high military budget of $753 billion for 2022, the Pentagon said its share of $715 billion was needed to confront China.
When it comes to space, competition with China, as well as Russia, is the focus of US Space Command and Space Force leaders to justify the new branch and command’s existence. "Space is very important right now," Dickinson said.
"We are seeing what our competitors are doing in space." Dickinson said the US is watching China’s space program "very closely."
President Biden has made it very clear that China is the foreign policy priority of his administration. In his first address to Congress, Biden said the US is in competition with Beijing to "win the 21st century." He’s framed the relationship as an ideological battle between "autocracy" and "democracy."