The United States military activated U.S. Space Forces Korea at Osan Air Base in Pyongtaek, South Korea, on Wednesday amid growing missile threats from North Korea. Pool Photo by Yonhap
SEOUL, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- The United States military launched a Space Force unit in South Korea on Wednesday amid rising missile and nuclear threats from North Korea.
U.S. Space Forces Korea is the second overseas component of the Space Force, a military branch that was established in 2019. It will focus on real-time missile detection and tracking and will boost the deterrence capabilities of the Seoul-Washington alliance, U.S. Forces Korea said in a press release.
Seoul and Washington have ramped up their security cooperation amid a record-breaking number of North Korean missile tests this year, including last month's launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile believed to be capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.
The new space unit also reflects the U.S. military's emphasis on multi-domain operations, a doctrine meant to address threats across all potential theaters of war, including air, land, sea, cyberspace and outer space.
U.S. Space Forces Korea joins the other components of the USFK, which includes the Eighth Army, Seventh Air Force, Naval Forces Korea, Marine Forces Korea and Special Operations Command Korea. It is headquartered at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, about 40 miles south of Seoul.
Earlier this month, South Korea's air force also established a space operations squadron at Osan in a show of coordination with the American military.
USFK commander Gen. Paul LaCamera hosted a launch ceremony at the air base Wednesday and said the Space Force "enhances our ability to defend the homelands and ensures peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia."
The new unit will be led by Lt. Col. Joshua McCullion.
"Our U.S. and Republic of Korea alliance was forged more than 70 years ago, as we stood shoulder to shoulder in war," McCullion said at the launch. "With the world around us evolving, so, too, must we."
"Just 48 miles north of us exists an existential threat -- a threat that we must be prepared to deter, defend against, and, if required, defeat," McCullion added, referring to the distance to the North Korean border.
Last month, Space Force activated its first command component outside the U.S. mainland, joining the Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii.