Relevant Categories: —SPACE—
Post#: 175-18 – Words: 1380 – Audio: N/A
Like many, when I heard the President mention his desire to create a “space force” to deal with the inevitable continuing human insurgence into space, I just shook my head and had images of Star Wars and our military battling Imperial Storm Troopers from Planet Klandathu (Starship Troopers reference), and the branding in the market place (Space Force G.I. Joe’s). But after a while of thinking about the concept… well… there is a plausible concept to suggest a debatable policy.
Currently anything relating to space is run by the Air Force. In fact, our GPS network, which has grown to be such an integral part on it’s own in our daily lives, is completely maintained by USAF. The idea of spinning off military innovation into separate military areas of responsibility is not new in the least. The Army handles land military efforts. The Navy and Coast Guard handles our presence on the high seas given the world is two thirds water. When airplanes were recognized as a combat weapon it started as an arm of the Army… Army Air Corps. That was spun off after WW2 to form USAF… which also took control of missile delivery systems for nukes. Up until now assigning space responsibilities to the Air Force has made sense given space could be a logical extension of responsibility to our air arm… and the head start they provided to our space program in already having flung heavy payloads into space (nukes). So to imagine spinning off space responsibilities, which is not the playground of the civilian run NASA anymore, seems to make some crazy sense. But to presume that a possible singular role is simply to militarize space, which is what my visions were at first, is not really a visionary outlook.
The debate then becomes a concept less about who is in charge of that effort (currently USAF) but establishing an evolutionary policy on a need for a broader interpretation for how the U.S. can maintain it’s security, with its allies, and retain political dominance as humanity expands into space. If its decided that this responsibility should fall beyond the Air Force, then so be it. But the responsibility would be far more than just a new military uniform showing up at the Pentagon… more than a new chair at the Joint Chiefs table, and certainly more than just another line item on the federal budget.
Recently scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson was on Zakaria’s Sunday program discussing the actual possibilities of a space force. There are some really imposing issues in our human futures as we expand more into space. Those halcyon days of The Right Stuff and NASA space exploration and international nice-nice treaties to prohibit the militarization of space and exploitation of the Moon, were good warm fuzzies back in those days. The current UN Space Treaty is a perfect example. But the realization that space is just another arena for humans to fight each other was always lurking in the background.
For example, Tyson cited that a while back China sent up a missile to destroy one of their own satellites. Russia sent up a crew to deactivate one of their satellites. Theses events send a distinct message. The idea that anyone can move, destroy, and even retrieve the orbiting bodies of other nations is within current technology. Docking, space walks, satellite retrieval… these are not interesting technological headline news achievements anymore; very commonplace.
In my opinion, we should keep in mind that a contemporary space force need not be anything military at all, at least in the traditional sense, given there’s no physical beings or robots to engage in combat in space directly. The primary “weapons” this space force would use would be inglorious and unromantic computers and ground-based operations centers; maybe a satellite network for it’s own detection and alert networks and enhanced space radar capabilities. Pretty much absorbing what the Air Force currently does in Colorado, and then some. Space defensive weaponry would likely be built into automated laser orbiting platforms. There would likely be no renegade space stations built and operated by terrorists or super villains any time soon that we could attack using space shuttles full of Space Force soldiers (ala the Bond movie, Moonraker). But it is conceivable that a series of space stations could be built over the decades and placed in strategic space locations around the globe and near the Moon that could serve as a quick strike platform from which manned or unmanned space vehicles could be launched to meet a physical threat… or even strike approaching asteroids.
Can there ever be a real expectation in the peaceful use of space exploration? Again, us humans have a bad record in behaving badly toward each other within any frontier to be explored and ultimately exploited. On the other hand, we have a superb record in pushing forward in such exploration to seek bettering ourselves and our lives.
Tyson made an interesting prophesy of hope regarding the human inevitability to mess up the new frontiers it explores. He said that from space viewing the world takes on a far different perspective than viewing the world from the ground. We see our vulnerability as it relates to the entire universe; the insignificance yet great significance of the existence of not only our species in occupying the planet, but also in our planet’s existence in the universe. As he mentioned, one doesn’t see the color-coded countries outlined on the planet from space as you would on the school room globe. On the other hand, how many Earthlings will actually gaze in wonder and awe at the Earth from space anyway? That in itself suggests that any Space Force will be an Earth-based operation for decades to come.
In fact, being in space is not all about looking down on ourselves to make sure countries behave and live in harmony. It’s also about turning our view out into space and watching for asteroids or other unknown threats to our physical planet. This idea in itself sets up the very unique stage that in some form we DO need to unify as a species to protect our planet… and that in itself maybe being a catalyst for future peace.
So.. did Trump have a good idea? I’d rather not devote energy in this blog to criticize Trump having an original idea of a grand vision for space. That’s for the other blog. This blog is about policy. But his Space Force is not necessarily an idea to summarily be dismissed. Although, based on what I’ve just mentioned, his idea seems more a name change and shift of responsibility… and far less about a space military armed with lasers, phasers, and photon torpedoes… at least for now.
It’s been my management style throughout life that I do not make arbitrary decisions simply because I think those decisions are correct. I will always prefer in getting some level of feedback.. and throwing more minds onto the problem to be solved. Now, this doesn’t mean I avoid making decisions when “committee” is not practical nor is not fast enough. But the important decisions should be explored first.
If I were President I’d form an commission made up of military, the intel community, NASA, select members of Congress… and other appropriate persons/agencies, to construct a framework for the creation of such an agency/military branch, outlining all potential threats (present and future) to be addressed, with political advantages (and shortcomings) in support of our world wide diplomatic efforts… and a national policy for the coming decades. From there a decision would be made on creating an entity (an agency or military arm… or even if it should be called “Space Force”; I never liked “Homeland Security”)… although I have little faith that any decision would be done that way. Personally I would resurrect Reagan’s Star Wars initiative as policy.. but that’s for another post.
…and that’s my opinion.
United States Space Command? USSC, SPACOM?
United States Space Force? USSF, SPAFOR?
United States Guardians Of The Galaxy? USGG, GOG?
United States Space Expeditionary Force? USSEF, USEF
United States Space Enforcement Agency? USSEA, SEA?
My other sites… if you’re interested…