The United States has long enjoyed military ‘superpower’ status that was rivaled only by the U.S.S.R during the ‘cold war’ days. Thats all changing now. Indications are that the U.S is not only militarily vulnerable, particularly to Russia and China, but is, in fact, in the crosshairs of these nations who are seemingly eager to reverse the balance of military power by capitalizing on U.S vulnerabilities.

According to Bill Gertz at the, there are strong indications that China and Russia are preparing to attack and disrupt critical U.S. military and intelligence satellites in a future conflict. They intend to achieve this via crippling space missile, maneuvering satellite, and laser attacks, as senior Pentagon and intelligence officials recently told Congress.

Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of the Air Force Space Command, said the threat to U.S. space systems has reached a new tipping point, and after years of post-Cold War stagnation foreign states are focused on curbing U.S. space systems.

“Adversaries are developing kinetic, directed-energy, and cyber tools to deny, degrade, and destroy our space capabilities… They understand our reliance on space, and they understand the competitive advantage we derive from space. The need for vigilance has never been greater, the four-star general said.

Hyten added that U.S. Global Positioning System satellites remain vulnerable to attack or jamming. The satellites’ extremely accurate time-keeping feature is even more critical to U.S. guided weapons than their ability to provide navigation guidance. Disrupting the satellites time capabilities would degrade the militarys ability to conduct precision strike operations used in most weapons systems today.

According to a separate statement attributed to Frank Calvelli, deputy director of the National Reconnaissance Office, the Pentagon currently has 19 military-capable GPS satellites in orbit and a new generation of GPS satellites is being developed that will produce signals three times stronger than current system to be able to overcome electronic jamming.

Hyten further explained that a new joint military-intelligence command center is helping to monitor space threats, such as anti-satellite missile launches, covert killer-robot satellites, and ground-fired lasers that can blind or disrupt satellites.

The unit is called the Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center, located at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. The Space Command also is creating 39 cyber mission teams that will be used for defensive and offensive cyber operations involving space systems.

Lt. Gen. David Buck, commander of Joint Functional Component for Space, a U.S. Strategic Command unit, testified along with Hyten that China and Russia pose the most serious threats to space systems.

“Simply stated, there isnt a single aspect of our space architecture, to include the ground architecture, that isnt at risk… Russia views U.S. dependency on space as an exploitable vulnerability and they are taking deliberate actions to strengthen their counter-space capabilities,” he said.

Buck noted that in December, China created its first dedicated space warfare and cyber warfare unit called the Strategic Support Forces, for concentrating their space, electronic, and network warfare capabilities.

“China is developing, and has demonstrated, a wide range of counter-space technologies to include direct-ascent, kinetic-kill vehicles, co-orbital technologies that can disable or destroy a satellite, terrestrially-based communications jammers, and lasers that can blind or disable satellites. Moreover, they continue to modernize their space programs to support near-real-time tracking of objects, command and control of deployed forces, and long-range precision strikes capabilities,” the three-star general said.

Knowing all of this, what does the U.S have up its sleeve to repel all these ‘clear and present’ dangers or threats? Douglas Loverro, deputy assistant defense secretary for space policy, said the United States does not want a war in space. He acknowledged that the space vulnerabilities are perceived by U.S military rivals as its weakest yet most valuable target for attack, but exuded confidence regarding U.S readiness and ability to defend itself.

“…But let me be clear about our intentwe will be ready,” Loverro said, further suggesting that U.S defense and deterrence of space attacks could involve counter attacks, possibly on the ground or in cyberspace. He reportedly provided no specifics but said deterrence against foreign nations space attacks is based on defending against missile strikes or other attacks and making sure satellite operations will not be disrupted in war.

Deterrence also will be based on increasing foreign partnerships with allied nations in gathering intelligence on space threats and other cooperation, implying increased co-operation within the NATO alliance and other friendly nations.

In the case of China, the U.S seems to be prepared to take the fight to them and stirring the hornets nest. A separate report from reported that the U.S Army recently announced that it plans to stockpile munitions and military supplies in Vietnam, Cambodia, and several other undisclosed nations including, experts believe, the Philippines, as the US adopts an increasingly aggressive military posture toward C

The move comes in response to what the US has alleged are repeated steps by China to militarize the region in what is seen as a push to dominate the South China Sea. Predictably the move has incensed Beijing and strained military relations between the U.S and China.

US officials state that the munitions caches, placed within areas China considers to be within its “sphere of influence,” are necessary to respond to regional “threats” by Russia and North Korea, and allow for more rapid deployment.

Frank Calvelli, deputy director of the National Reconnaissance Office, the spy agency that builds and operates strategic intelligence and reconnaissance satellites, agrees that a resurgent Russia and aggressive China are among several current national security threats. We are more focused on survivability and resiliency from an enterprise perspective than we have ever been and we have made significant investments to that end, he said.

One of several such investments reported on is through the agencys upgrading of its ground stations, which are used to control and communicate with orbiting satellites, including an artificial intelligence system called Sentient – a ‘thinking’ system that allows automated, multi-intelligence tipping and cueing at machine speeds.

According to Calvelli, new ground stations are also being deployed that will empower “users of all types with the capabilities to receive, process, and generate tailored, timely, highly-assured, and actionable intelligence,”| Calvelli said.

It all sounds very re-assuring to the American public – but would all these measures be adequate to quell the Russia/China threat?  Supposing U.S rivals still maintain the edge and are a step ahead? Recent developments suggest that the U.S would do well not to relax or rest on its laurels. recently reported that in a Chinese television program aired earlier this month a local defense expert hailed the unique characteristics of the Russian ICBM and the fear it had instilled in the hearts of foreign militaries.

Rossiiskaya Gazeta wrote: “Russias new RS-26 (ICBM) missile travels along a continuously changing trajectory and as such it has no analogues in the world,” the expert said.  When asked about the US missile defense system, he said that it was “absolutely useless” against the RS-26.

“This one is even better than the famous Topol-M missile… Its warheads are supersonic and change their course all the time. Some of them will penetrate any existing missile defense shield and will hit their target,” the expert added, stating that not only the Americans were clueless but that the Chinese now had something to worry about as well. “Russia is 100-percent safe now, unlike everybody else,” he emphasized.

What makes the RS-26 so special is that even though it weighs just 80 tons, compared to the 120-ton heft of its RS-24 Yars predecessor, the Rubezh packs a frightening 1.2 megatons into its four 300 kiloton warheads. With a potential range of 11,000 kilometers, the RS-26 can hit targets all across the United States. Moreover, its booster stage is down to under five minutes, which means that NATO radars in Europe will have no time to register the launch.

Adding to NATO air defenders’ worries, during the descending section of its trajectory, with only a few hundred kilometers left to the target, the missiles warheads suddenly take a dive, lose altitude, and continue the approach as a cruise missile. These new Russian ICBM warheads were developed in response to America’s plans to deploy a global missile defense system along Russia’s borders. The RS-26 Rubezh is expected to become operational in 2016.

Only time will tell whether the U.S will prove equal to the task of repelling these fearsome challenges arising from its most ardent and dangerous rivals. However, doing this without triggering a war will be a very delicate balancing act.

And it could get really ugly. As Washington Post opinion writer David Ignatius recently wrote concerning the U.S move to stockpile munitions around the South China Sea: “The US is heading toward a dangerous showdown with China”. Ignatius cited former assistant secretary of state for Asia Kurt Campbell expressing concern that the Obama administration’s posturing could trigger World War III.

Re-posted from