Since 13 July 2021 the Bundeswehr has had a space command. At ILA, Base Commander Major General Michael Traut talked about the responsibilities and challenges facing this most recently established Bundeswehr unit based in Uedem on the Lower Rhine.
“Space important it is very“ – Major General Traut began his speech on the Defence Forum Air Stage in Hall 3 by quoting Jedi Master Yoda from the Star Wars epos and raising smiles in the audience. However, faced with new actors and new threats, the responsibilities of the new command in the wide, not-so-limitless universe were very serious. Traut quoted the recent and stark example of Russian forces targeting one of their own satellites in November 2021, whose debris now constitute a risk to other space actors such as the Starlink network. It was currently impossible to keep track of altogether 5,000 active satellites, as well as 30,000 large and 700,000 tiny objects polluting space. On day one of the war against Ukraine, the transponders of western-built wind turbines were destroyed in a deliberate interference with Ukraine’s communications. “In space, there is a grey zone between military and civilian operations and hardly any regulations exist – it is the new wild west“, said Traut. However, the new command was taking an active role in confronting the various security threats, and in addition to protecting its own systems and evaluating data, its focus was on exchanging views with similar commands among friendly nations. The more digitalised our society was, the more it would become dependent on space and had to be protected from the dangers which that posed. In that respect, the space command cooperated closely with the Bundeswehr’s cyber and information room.