In yet another step toward firmly establishing an independent identity from the other services, the U.S. Space Force has published a new document articulating “spacepower” as a separate and distinct form of military power.
The Space Capstone Publication is the Space Force’s first official doctrine, and it will serve as a foundation for further doctrines that will delve deeper into the thorny military issues confronting the nascent service. The document lays out when military spacepower should be employed, who makes up military space forces, and the culture those forces should build. Key to that culture is organizational agility, innovation and boldness.
“One of the principles of an independent service is the creation of doctrine,” said Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, chief of space operations. “The Space Capstone Publication explains why spacepower is a vital element of U.S. prosperity and security — now and in the future — and guides its employment in multidomain operations. As the USSF continues to grow and mature, we will continue to evolve our doctrine to stay on the cutting edge of defending our interests in space.”
Other services and joint documents lay out space-related doctrines, the Space Force noted in its announcement, but all of those were written when space was considered a benign domain. Now the military considers space a war-fighting domain — blame for which is placed squarely on the shoulders of America’s adversaries — and the service’s first doctrine reflects that.
The key concept to the capstone is that military spacepower consists of deterrent and coercive capabilities, and the Space Force must provide independent options to national and joint leadership with those capabilities. With the space domain defined as the “altitude where atmospheric effects on airborne objects becomes negligible,” spacepower is inherently global.
Work on the document began before the Space Force was even established in December 2019. The effort began with a small group of individuals of varying ranks and affiliations.
“It was a coalition of the willing,” said Col. Casey Beard, commander of Space Delta 9. “We started work in August 2019 and met every two weeks — brainstorming, debating, building an outline and assigning sections to draft.”
The Space Force then hosted a summit in February to formalize work on the doctrine, accepting input from military services and exchange officers from the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.
Nathan Strout covers space, unmanned and intelligence systems for C4ISRNET.