US launches space force unit in South Korea to monitor missile, nuclear threats

Flags of the USA and South Korea
Novikov Aleksey / Shutterstock

The United States Space Force (USSF) has formed a new space force unit at Osan Air Base in South Korea to monitor North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.

The U.S. Space Forces Korea (USFK), which is also recognized as SPACEFOR-KOR, was officially launched on December 14, 2022. 

According to a statement issued by the USFK, the new unit is tasked with monitoring, near-real-time detecting, and warning of incoming ballistic missile launches and nuclear threats in order to enhance US capabilities of ensuring peace and security on the Korean peninsula and in Northeast Asia. 

“Today marks the next milestone in strengthening our ironclad commitment to the U.S.-Korean alliance. […] 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,” USSF Lt. Col. Joshua McCullion said.

The SPECEFOR-KOR will also help to “maximize the synergy” between the 7th Air Force headquarters and the 607th Air Operations Center as well as “further synchronizing space operations in the U.S. Space Forces – Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility.”

“The new unit will provide space planning and employment expertise, as well as space command and control to the USFK commander. […] The component’s cadre of space guardians will work with allies and partners to integrate space activities into shared operations, activities, and investments,” the USFK concluded.

In April 2022, Defense Intelligence Agency officials warned of dramatic increases in the pace and scope of space operations by major US competitors, particularly China and Russia, which have been growing their in-orbit space assets by 70% since 2019. The officials were also concerned about China and Russia’s increased efforts to develop hypersonic weapons and anti-satellite technologies.

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