President Trump’s decision to push of the establishment of a separate military branch – the Space Force – is one that has drawn a lot of scorn from Hollywood. The wild theories abound, but that scorn from Hollywood and others – which likely would not have been present had the President promoting a separate Space Force been Barack Obama – is misplaced.
The fact is, there are some very good reasons to establish a separate military service for space operations. Don’t give me crap about how we are militarizing space. It became militarized the moment the first satellite with military applications was launched into orbit. The only question now is which group of Earthlings will emerge as the pre-eminent space power.
For obvious reasons, it should be the United States of America. So, here’s why we need the Space Force:
1) We have become dependent on space
Whether it’s for navigation, targeting, communications, or reconnaissance, we rely on assets in space to do a lot of the lifting. The Global Positioning System, for instance, not only tells our troops where they are within about twenty feet (give or take), it also helps put a Joint Direct Attack Munition within 20 feet of ISIS, Taliban, or al-Qaeda thugs.
Since these assets are so vital, it’s probably a good idea to have a branch of service dedicated to their protection, as well as improving them for the future.
2) Russia and China are looking to cancel our advantages
American military success with relatively low casualties in military operations over the last 30 years has been noticed by Russia and China. They’re working on ways to take out that advantage, while having (and safeguarding) similar capabilities of their own. To keep an edge, it behooves the United States to get space operations under one roof.
3) It will free up other services to handle their things
Right now, each service has its own branch involved in space operations. While they complement the operations done by the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Marines, the space operations are now becoming so essential, it distracts from other things. The Navy is down to 284 ships – a force less than half the size of the Navy the United States had thirty years ago. The Air Force is trying to juggle two-thirds of America’s nuclear triad (nuclear bombers and ICBMs), space operations, tactical operations (like supporting grunts engaged with ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups), and a host of other missions. The Army and Marines similarly have their primary areas of focus.
4) It can preserve capabilities we’ve let lapse
The development of a separate space service also offers the ability to maintain capabilities that have lapsed in the past, like manned spaceflight. In the late 1970s, and for a fair bit of the 2010s, the United States had no manned spaceflight capability of its own. In the 1970s, we had a gap between the Apollo/Skylab programs and the Space Shuttle. Under Obama, we retired the Space Shuttle and didn’t have a replacement.
A military space service could keep manned spaceflight going – and might provide different systems than NASA does, giving America a multitude of options to reach space. Remember how America lost access to space temporarily after the Challenger and Columbia were lost?
5) It reflects reality
Space is slated to become a battlefield in the next major war the United States fights. That has been inevitable since the first satellites used by the military went up. In some ways, it mirrors aviation – first there were the recon planes. Then some piltos brought along stuff to drop on the enemy. Then, the pilots of the planes started shooting at each other, leading to the development of planes that could fight other planes, drop bombs, or do both.
We are not yet at the point where satellites and manned spacecraft shoot at each other, but when that time comes, we will be far more prepared for the fight in space than we were when aerial combat became a component of war in World War I, when the United States had to fly foreign designs.
The Space Force is an idea whose time has come. Getting that force off the ground now could help America win the next war – or even ensure that the next war isn’t fought at all.