A piece of metal the size of a coin could end crucial space operations that affect not only military missions, but also everyday life on Earth. That's why America needs the U.S. Space Force.
That message is one of the main themes in the sixth military branch's latest advertisement, the third the service has released since May. In a nearly three minute-long video titled, "The Sky is Not the Limit," the Space Force stresses the need for reliable space operations to power everything from ATMs and gas pumps to power grids, guided missiles and intelligence-gathering equipment.
"Earth is only half the battle," the narrator says.
"Cyber attacks and jamming of our satellites -- microsatellites that can create a debris field...now is the time for a military branch with a clear and singular focus on space," the spot continues.
" ... We aren't just getting ready for the future, we're getting ready for the 22nd century."
Prior to the creation of Space Force last December, Pentagon officials warned that space threats have been increasing over the last decade.
In a famous 2007 incident, China conducted an anti-satellite missile test, destroying one of its own weather satellites to prove it could one day take out enemy satellites. The test left more than 3,000 pieces of debris in orbit. Even today, U.S. Space Command, the 11th unified combatant command, which stood up last August, continues to spot and track pieces of debris from the test, an official with the command told Military.com earlier this year.
The Chinese have continued testing their anti-satellite weapons, but without kinetic means. U.S. intelligence agencies have observed Russia also testing non-kinetic, anti-satellite weapons. Then, earlier this year, two Russian satellites, Cosmos 2542 and 2543, tailed an American satellite, known as USA 245 or KH-11. Time Magazine reported the Russian satellites loitered within 100 miles of KH-11, activity that Gen. John "Jay" Raymond, the head of the Space Force, called "unusual and disturbing."
"With China and Russia both actively developing capabilities to negate U.S., allied and partner space systems, we are left with no choice but to ensure we are prepared with the necessary means to protect and defend ourselves from attacks to our systems," Stepen Kitay, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Space Policy, said in June during the unveiling of the Pentagon's Space Strategy. Kitay has since stepped down from his post.
"We won't just think outside the box; we'll think outside the atmosphere in one of the most challenging environments ever known," the latest ad states.
"When our enemies ask, 'What if?' We will have an answer."
-- Gina Harkins contributed to this report.