Trump Announces ‘Space Force.’ Now What?

Seemingly out of nowhere yesterday, the Commander-in-Chief ordered the Pentagon to create a fifth service.

Seemingly out of nowhere yesterday, the Commander-in-Chief ordered the Pentagon to create a fifth service. He doesn’t have the authority to do that. So what happens next?

Defense One‘s Marcus Weisgerber and Patrick Tucker have a good summary (“What Trump’s Space Force Announcement Means“):

Donald Trump said Monday that he had directed the Pentagon to establish a Space Force, describing it as a sixth branch of the U.S. military. It would be the first time the Pentagon has stood up a new service since the Air Force received its independence after World War II.

Creating a standalone service for space isn’t something the president can do on his own; he needs congressional authorization. But Monday’s announcement (here’s video, via Reuters), which follow broad endorsements of the concept by the Joint Chiefs’ office and various military branches, means that Senate holdouts who were taking their cues from the Air Force are likely to bow out of the fight.

That could clear the way for a Space Force to be in the 2019 defense authorization act, says Todd Harrison, who directs the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Aerospace Security Project.

It wasn’t immediately clear just what parts of the Pentagon’s sprawling space endeavors would be swept into this new outfit. Most of the Navy’s space-and-satellite work falls under the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, based in San Diego, while the Army has its Space and Missile Defense Command in Huntsville, Ala. But the bulk of the military’s space efforts are handled by the Air Force — specifically Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. — and it has been the air service that has fought hardest against the idea.

It wasn’t even clear whether the new service branch would have its own secretary, putting it on par with the Army, Navy, and Air Force — or would occupy a lower tier, like the Marine Corps. Trump seemed to suggest the former. “We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force, separate but equal,” he said, carefully enunciating the oddly infelicitous phrase.

The announcement caught some in the Pentagon by surprise. “We understand the President’s guidance. Our Policy Board will begin working on this issue, which has implications for intelligence operations for the Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy. Working with Congress, this will be a deliberate process with a great deal of input from multiple stakeholders,” Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White said in a statement.

The military was in the process of evaluating the entire space force concept in terms of feasibility and structure. Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan’s office was conducting what Harrison described as a broad study due in August.

A potentially more interesting study, due in September, was to be completed by the Center for Naval Analysis. “Their job was to create a roadmap for how to create an independent service for space. They’re supposed to be coming up with the plan for how to do this. They would give it to Congress to consider for next year’s NDAA,” said Harrison.

To some, Monday’s announcement smacked of impulsiveness. “This is another example of: ready, fire, aim,” said David Deptula, a retired Air Force lieutenant general who leads the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Power Studies.

But, in fact, the idea has been circulating for nearly two decades. A report by The Atlantic‘s Russell Berman last August (“Does the U.S. Military Need a Space Corps?“) sheds more light on the debate:

In a bipartisan vote last month, the House of Representatives approved legislation that would direct the Defense Department to build a new “space corps” within the Air Force. Its backers blame the Pentagon for failing to prioritize space security in recent years, a lapse that has allowed rivals like Russia and China the opportunity to catch up to U.S. superiority. The proposal’s fate now rests in the Senate, but its most powerful foe is the military itself, which says Congress should simply send more resources rather than force it to undertake a bureaucratic overhaul during a time of war.

“The military has not done a good enough job looking after space with all its other distracting priorities,” said Representative Jim Cooper, a Tennessee Democrat who has championed the idea of a space corps along with Representative Mike Rogers of Alabama, the chairman of an armed-services subcommittee in the House. “It’s just not getting the attention it deserves.”

Space has become as integral to military operations as it has for anyone who uses an iPhone to get directions through GPS or an up-to-the-second weather forecast. “Our military now is completely dependent on space,” said Todd Harrison, director of the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. “We can’t fight without fighting through space. When we put a bomb on a target somewhere in the world, did that bomb come from space? Not physically, but the bomb would not have gotten there without our space capabilities. So it is a space-enabled bomb.”

The idea for a new service devoted to space is not new, and support for it does not break down along partisan lines. It first gained currency in 2000 as a recommendation from a military-reform commission headed by Donald Rumsfeld, who was then a retired ex-defense secretary and White House chief of staff under President Gerald Ford. A year later, Rumsfeld would be recruited back to government as George W. Bush’s defense secretary and set about to overhaul the bureaucracy of the Pentagon—a reform that might have included the space corps. But the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the launching of long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq sidetracked that effort.

The proposal has bubbled back up over the years, but last month was the first time it had ever passed the House as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. An amendment to create the space corps, sponsored by Rogers and Cooper, was adopted by the Armed Services Committee with the support of all but one member, Republican Representative Michael Turner of Ohio. And in a sign that the party leadership backed the idea, the House Rules Committee refused to allow a floor vote on Turner’s bid to strip the space corps from the bill.

In phone interviews, Rogers and Cooper cited the emerging threat from Russia and China as the reason for the newfound political momentum. Rogers said lawmakers had received alarming classified briefings about the two countries’ capabilities and said the Air Force was consistently six to eight years behind in deploying its own new capabilities. Both countries, he said, had recently gained “peer status” with the United States in space. The worry is that either country could neutralize key U.S. satellites. “They recognize they cannot take us on and it be a fair fight,” Rogers told me. “But if they take our eyes and ears out, they actually have a chance to have a fair fight with the United States. We don’t ever want to get into a war where we have a fair fight.”

“We don’t want them to be able to neutralize one of our satellites, even for 10 or 15 minutes, blinding them while they launch or while they set up to launch,” Rogers continued. He wouldn’t detail exactly what Russia or China could do, citing the classified briefings. “They have offensive capability, and I can’t talk any more about it than to say that.”

Cooper said the risk of an attack on U.S. satellites went far beyond the military. “If our satellites were attacked, we would be blinded, deaf, and impotent before we even knew what hit us,” he said. “Everything from ATM machines to Zumwalt destroyers would be paralyzed.”

He blamed the Air Force for lagging behind technologically, pointing out in frustration that the United States remains heavily reliant on Russian-built rockets to launch into space. “Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have done more to give us extra launch capability than the Air Force has,” Cooper said. “This is stunning.”

But there’s a giant command inside the Air Force devoted to space issues. If they’re not doing enough, it’s a function of resource allocation, not what uniform they’re wearing. Unless Congress allocates more money and gives them a specific mandate, it’s not obvious what a new Service would change.

Back to the Defense One report:

What would a Space Force actually do? Harrison suggested that the most useful thing would be to create a ”cadre of space professionals. [It would] groom them and grow them to think space, space power, strategy, doctrine, and to develop more innovative operational concepts.”

He added, “It doesn’t mean that space will become more weaponized or militarized; that’s happening anyway, regardless of what the United States does. The weaponization of space is being led by other countries.”

In the decades before the Air Force’s creation, a cadre of aviators developed airpower doctrine and strategy at the Army Air Corps Tactical School. That has not been the case this time around, said Doug Birkey, executive director for the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Power Studies. The military has treated space airmen as technical experts providing a utility, Birkey said, largely because talking about offensive wars in space has been taboo.

Policy makers “need to think about how to use space as a national military asset, not just Verizon” — a telecom utility, Birkey said.

He said that if lawmakers create a Space Force, it’s essential that space specialists in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps also get put into the new branch.

Space has at times been seen as the Air Force’s red-headed stepchild, playing second fiddle to go-fast jets. After Strategic Air Command shut down, its ICBMs were shuffled to Space Command, until the creation of Global Strike Command some 17 years later. This summer, the cyber warfighting arm of the Air Force will move from Space Command to Air Combat Command.

Air Force leaders — who have been opposed to creating a new space service — have made a number of moves that they say show they take the space mission seriously.

The concept of a standalone service for space received some top-level support under Donald Rumsfeld and in the 2000 National Defense Authorization Act. More recently, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., and Jim Cooper, D-Tenn. — the chairman and ranking member of House Armed Services Committee’s strategic forces panel — pushed the House to include a Space Force amendment in its version of the 2018 NDAA. The provision was ultimately axed in negotiations with the Senate.

But today’s announcement goes beyond what Rogers and Cooper sought, which was a Space Corps whose commander would answer to the Air Force Secretary, just as the Marine Corps answers to the Navy Secretary. A Space Force, however, would be independent entirely from the Air Force, potentially with its own Secretary.

These are all decisions for the Congress, which may or may not be deferential to the President. The last time we created a new service, it wasn’t.

What became the National Security Act of 1947 started out as a proposal from Harry Truman to create a single Department of Defense under a single secretary, all but eliminating the Marine Corps. Instead, mostly because of the open defiance of the Navy and Marine Corps, Congress added a new service—the Air Force—along with a co-equal Secretary of Defense. After the four services failed to make things work, most famously at the Key West Conference in 1948, a 1949 Amendment was passed by Congress subordinating the three Service secretaries (Army, Navy, and Air Force) to the Secretary of Defense. Even that bill, though, was far short of what Truman envisioned.

Truman, who had served as an Army field artillery captain in World War I, was bitterly opposed to the Marine Corps as a second land army. It not only kept that status but achieved specific legal guarantees from Congress as to its future size. Eventually, its Commandant would be elevated to co-equal status with the other Joint Chiefs. It’s still technically subordinate to the Department of Navy, as it lacks its own civilian secretary, but is otherwise a full service in its own right.

While Truman opposed the creation of an independent Air Force, once it became a fait accompli he, naturally, wanted it to consolidate all of the nation’s military airpower. Instead, only the Army—of which the Air Force emerged—lost its airplanes. The Navy and Marine Corps successfully fought to keep their own air assets and Congress backed their efforts.

Whether the Space Force gets created is Congress’ decision. So, too, is whether it gets its own civilian Secretary, seat on the Joint Chiefs, and so forth. The current Congress has certainly been more deferential to Trump than the postwar Congress was to Truman. But we have an election coming in less than five months that could significantly change that.

I don’t have a strong view as to what they should do. It’s not obvious to me that the current model is failing us. Or why the next step shouldn’t be to consolidate all Defense Department space assets into a single Combatant Command, as we did with special operations way back in 1987. That, too, would require an Act of Congress.

 

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs, National Security
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Timothy Watson says:

    Space has become as integral to military operations as it has for anyone who uses an iPhone to get directions through GPS or an up-to-the-second weather forecast. “Our military now is completely dependent on space,” said Todd Harrison, director of the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. “We can’t fight without fighting through space. When we put a bomb on a target somewhere in the world, did that bomb come from space? Not physically, but the bomb would not have gotten there without our space capabilities. So it is a space-enabled bomb.”

    But hasn’t this been an issue going back to the 1970s and 1980s when both the United States and the Soviet Union were both researching and developing anti-satellite weapons?

  2. James Joyner says:

    @Timothy Watson:

    But hasn’t this been an issue going back to the 1970s and 1980s when both the United States and the Soviet Union were both researching and developing anti-satellite weapons?

    Yeah. Most of our space technology is developed by civilians and likely always will be.

  3. At least SDI had a strategy behind it.

    This just sounds silly.

    Can’t we just save all the money a study would cost and buy Donald Trump his own replica Star Trek uniform and tell him he’s now Commander in Chief of Starfleet?

    23
  4. KM says:

    Look, the man’s stupid. Take whatever money he’s offering, use it to pay the troops a decent wage then mock up some banners with a snazzy logo and repaint some old jets to look TIE fighter-ish. Tell him the tech’s not quite ready yet so it doesn’t fly but he can sit in the cockpit if he wants! Maybe even call Disney to set up a laser show or borrow some props to really sell the sci-fi woo to an idiot who doesn’t understand computers, let alone literal rocket science and astrophysics. Hell, I’m available for consult and would do it for a Starbucks Mocha grande just to pull one over on him!

    You can keep El Moron satisfied with that for at least a couple of months.

    12
  5. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Trump Announces ‘Space Force.’ Now What?

    New uniforms… SHINY uniforms, with huge shoulder epaulets with fringe. a big gold “T” on the chest. Men and Women both. The women can wear tight shorts and high heels

    And Ray Guns. Pew Pew Pew !

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Trump Announces ‘Space Force.’ Now What?

    Well, the tax hike to pay for it of course.

    @Doug Mataconis: I only regret that I have but one thumbs up to give.

  7. Bob@Youngstown says:

    anything to distract from the moral outrage of using babies for leverage.

  8. Franklin says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: And cool catch phrases like “Nanu nanu” and “My hair, he shot my hair. Son of a bitch!”

  9. Hal_10000 says:

    I think it’s a good idea to have military option in space should we need them but … the Air Force is already doing that. I’ve specifically worked with Academy graduates who do satellite management and design and they’re really good. If he wants to ramp our involvement with space, USAF already has the resources and structure to do so.

    (Aside: my dad, Col USAF (Rtd) always has a fit when science fiction shows use naval ranks for space forces (e.g., Star Trek). He always points out that the Air Force is the only force really involved in space and so they should be Air Force ranks.)

  10. Kathy says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Can’t we just save all the money a study would cost and buy Donald Trump his own replica Star Trek uniform and tell him he’s now Commander in Chief of Starfleet?

    I remain Trekkie enough not to want to see a Starfleet uniform desecrated in such a way.

    But I hear Buck Rogers is available.

    On the other hand, it might be Duck Dodgers…

  11. CSK says:

    @Franklin:

    “My hair. He shot my hair. Son-of-a-bitch!” That’s one of the funniest scenes in Spaceballs.

  12. CSK says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    Yeah, that was my immediate reaction. Trump probably heard the phrase “space force” somewhere, thought “Cool!”, and immediately envisioned this as a monument to his own glorification.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Larison is decidedly underwhelmed by this proposal.

  14. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    I don’t really care about this in one way or another…except that it only being used to distract (not very successfully) from snatching children from their parents at the border.
    Given the size of the deficit Dennison has exploded it seems we would be better off reducing overhead and integrating functions, not creating new expense and bureaucracy…but whatever. Republicans love to grow Government and spend money they don’t have. Nothing new here.
    Real-world:

    But, in fact, the idea has been circulating for nearly two decades.

    Dennison-world:

    “I said ‘maybe we need a new force. We’ll call it the space force.’ Not really serious. And then I said ‘What a great idea. Maybe we ’ll have to do that.’ That could happen.”

  15. Timothy Watson says:

    @Hal_10000:

    (Aside: my dad, Col USAF (Rtd) always has a fit when science fiction shows use naval ranks for space forces (e.g., Star Trek). He always points out that the Air Force is the only force really involved in space and so they should be Air Force ranks.)

    He’ll love the Stargate television series then.

  16. James Joyner says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    I don’t really care about this in one way or another…except that it only being used to distract (not very successfully) from snatching children from their parents at the border.

    @Bob@Youngstown:

    anything to distract from the moral outrage of using babies for leverage.

    As noted in the OP, this idea has been floating around for years and years. There’s been serious discussion of it by defense types going back to the Clinton administration at least. It’s come up multiple times during the Trump presidency.

    Was announcing it yesterday, seemingly out of the blue, an attempt at distraction? Maybe. But the idea itself has deeper roots.

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Larison is decidedly underwhelmed by this proposal.

    As one would expect; he’s reflexively against the idea of the US as a hegemonic power and the expenditures and force structure that requires. But he doesn’t actually put forth an argument as to why this particular proposal is a bad idea other than dismissing the need for it. While I tend to agree that there are simpler ways of achieving the desired endstate, “we don’t need it” isn’t a serious rebuttal.

  17. al Ameda says:

    Donald Trump said Monday that he had directed the Pentagon to establish a Space Force, describing it as a sixth branch of the U.S. military.

    Media: ‘Just look at these appalling detention camps.’
    Trump: ‘I have directed the Pentagon to establish a Space Force!’
    Media: ‘What’s this about a Space Force?”
    Trump: ‘Good dog!”

  18. Franklin says:

    To be more serious, obviously we already do utilize space and will continue competing with other countries. How that is organized is above my pay grade, so I don’t have a particular objection to this specific proposal.

    But nobody would think that Trump himself has properly considered the implications, or is even capable of doing so. “Space Force” sounds good to him, so that’s what he went for.

  19. Kathy says:

    @Timothy Watson:

    But hasn’t this been an issue going back to the 1970s and 1980s when both the United States and the Soviet Union were both researching and developing anti-satellite weapons?

    The US has a multi-stage missile that’s launched from an F-15 climbing near its operational ceiling. It’s been tested and it works. I don’t think it goes into orbit, it just flies a trajectory that brings it near enough to the target where it detonates.

    The Soviets launched a few satellites with explosive charges. These stayed in orbit keeping station, but could be maneuvered to a target, then detonated.

    Both sides, and I assume China as well, can launch an ICBM set to detonate its warhead outside the atmosphere, which causes a massive electromagnetic pulse, (EMP) which kills or temporarily disables (depending on distance and shielding), all electronics within range. But these would not be able to discriminate between friendly and enemy satellites.

    There are many problems with all approaches. One is they create debris, which can damage or destroy other satellites, which would create more debris. Another is that satellites are only as massive as they need to be, while trying to be as light as possible. This means they have no shielding against EMP, much less against blast or shrapnel. With warning, you may maneuver a satellite out of harm’s way, but fuel is limited. A shift in position can render some satellites useless.

    There may be ongoing research on ground-based lasers that might blind or melt orbiting satellites.

    And maybe that ion cannon at the abandoned Rebel base on Hoth is still in working order…

  20. Charon says:

    @James Joyner:

    “we don’t need it” isn’t a serious rebuttal.

    Perhaps this at LGM then …

    LGM

  21. inhumans99 says:

    Where are you? Why do you hide?
    Where is that moonlight trail that leads to your side?
    Just like the Moonraker goes in search of his dream of gold
    I search for love, for someone to have and hold
    I’ve seen your smile in a thousand dreams
    Felt your touch and it always seems
    You love me
    You love me
    Where are you? When will we meet?
    Take my unfinished life and make it complete
    Just like the Moonraker knows his dream will come true someday
    I know that you are only a kiss away
    I’ve seen your smile in a thousand dreams
    Felt your touch and it always seems
    You love me
    You love me

    Yeah….more than a bit bemused that our President watched Moonraker and thought hey, marines in space with laser guns, oohh…neato mosquito, we need space marines to protect our freedom. At least he picked a Bond that is in my top ten because while it seems to be a much maligned Bond film amongst Bond enthusiasts in my eyes it has an insane amount of rewatchability. Jaws gets a girlfriend in this film…why it is not loved by more Bond fans has me speechless.

    Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled thread comments…sorry for the comments drift!

  22. James Joyner says:

    @Charon:

    Perhaps this at LGM then …

    That’s a better argument. Farley wrote a book a few years back arguing for abolishing the Air Force, so it’s not surprising that he opposes the creation of a Space Force. I tend to agree with him on the latter and am sympathetic to him on the former, although I think there’s a role to be had for the high-intensity advocacy that USAF provides that the airpower components of the other Services don’t.

    @inhumans99:

    Yeah….more than a bit bemused that our President watched Moonraker and thought hey, marines in space with laser guns, oohh…neato mosquito, we need space marines to protect our freedom.

    Again, there have been high-profile defense experts calling for a dedicated space service for decades. I’m skeptical that we need it, but it’s not something Trump pulled out of thin air.

  23. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Ironically enough, that would probably satisfy Trump that the goal has been met.

  24. Andy says:

    Thank you for being one of the few to acknowledge the reality that any President doesn’t have the authority to direct the creation of a new service.

    I’m also very skeptical about the necessity for a separate branch. While it makes sense to divide the equipping and organization of warfighting forces into the various domains, space is, and remains, a supporting function to warfare. I fail to see what would be gained by making a separate organization. If we need a new domain-based warfighting bureaucracy, then “cyber” should be at the top of the list, not space.

  25. MarkedMan says:

    I have to admit that my initial reaction was “yeah, let’s go after the Cylons before they get the upper hand…” But I don’t think this idea should be reflexively dismissed just because it comes form a semi literate moron like Trump. Off the top of my head, here are a few reasons on the pro side: (The anti side is left as an exercise for the student…)

    – There are battlefield implications for orbital assets both tactical (such as sat nav, spy satellites, early warning systems, etc.) and commercial assets of strategic importance (telecommunications, gps, etc). It is possible that the services are already too fixated on their specialities and so won’t give needed focus to a coherent strategy on defending these assets. A dedicated space force would necessarily be focused on this.
    – There is also the very, very real danger from medium to large sized asteroids. Despite the fact that this is a natural rather than a military threat, it may have enough in common with a surprise attack that the military is the best organization to task with a long term defensive plan and execute it. Again, the current military may be too focused on their traditional charters to give this (literally*) planet ending danger sufficient attention and resources.
    – Right now there is no one on earth that is examining the wisdom of broadcasting our existence and location. Every once in a while a random group of scientists with access to a radio telescope or super powerful laser decides to take matters into their own hands and send signals out. Personally, I think this is really a bad idea. A dedicated space force could be tasked with creating a proper risk/reward assessment and advocating for tighter controls.

    Don’t get me wrong. There is a lot of “if” and “may” and “might be” in my statements above. But it is worth examining. I would trust it not being a hideous boondoggle a lot more from a competent administration, but you take what you can get.

    *Literally literally, not figuratively literally.

  26. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    There is also the very, very real danger from medium to large sized asteroids.

    That is a real concern, and no one is seriously planning for it. But I doubt placing a few nukes in orbit as a last resort would meet with much approval.

    – Right now there is no one on earth that is examining the wisdom of broadcasting our existence and location. Every once in a while a random group of scientists with access to a radio telescope or super powerful laser decides to take matters into their own hands and send signals out.

    Well, we broadcast an awful lot of TV, radio, radar pulses, and data. The cat’s not just out of the bag, but several tens of light years away by now.

  27. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy:

    Well, we broadcast an awful lot of TV, radio, radar pulses, and data

    We do indeed, and it may be a concern. But that type of broadcast is very different from a tight beam shot in a single direction. With our technology today, we would have no way of detecting broadcasts like ours from even a very close star. Even with someone orbiting that star sending a tight beam signal we would have to be extraordinarily lucky to have it rise above the noise threshold. But it is possible and therefore more than possible to someone with significantly advanced technology.

    Worse, these scientists typically include directions to our solar system. In contrast, the broadcasts only send things like reality TV and Trump’s Tweets. Those things just make you dumber and therefore would make it more difficult for potential alien enemies to pinpoint exactly where on a million light year line we are located. In fact, it may make sense to tight beam nothing but Trump Tweets at every possible star system with intelligent life. That level of stupidity at such a high power could degrade all potential enemies to the point we are the most powerful force in the know universe.

  28. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    We might detect strong radar pulses, like those we used to remotely map Venus (not very well).

    But I’m not concerned. We could build vastly more sensitive radio telescopes. Someday our descendants will. I can already picture the controversies about radio interference on the far side of the Moon…

    Fact is we have zero data about life outside the Earth, much less intelligent life (obligatory joke: we hardly can find intelligent life on our planet, amiright?), so there’s no way to make an informed choice.

  29. teve tory says:

    Right now there is no one on earth that is examining the wisdom of broadcasting our existence and location. Every once in a while a random group of scientists with access to a radio telescope or super powerful laser decides to take matters into their own hands and send signals out. Personally, I think this is really a bad idea. A dedicated space force could be tasked with creating a proper risk/reward assessment and advocating for tighter controls.

    those signals diminish geometrically with distance. Frankly I don’t think we have anything to worry about w/r/t aliens, because shit’s all just too far apart.

  30. Charon says:

    @teve tory:

    Frankly I don’t think we have anything to worry about w/r/t aliens, because shit’s all just too far apart.

    Exactly. In the absence of warp drive or hyperspace or jumps or wormholes or ???, distances are just too great.

  31. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner: Everything that happens in space is in support of what happens here on the lands, seas, and in the air of planet Earth. To introduce a whole ‘nother bureaucracy in the equation seems completely wasteful as well as inefficient. In answer to that, “We don’t need it.” seems pretty damned obvious. Maybe he should have just said, “This is complete idiocy.”

  32. Andy says:

    @teve tory:

    Yep, the vast majority of our transmissions fade below the background level only a few light years from earth.

  33. Mister Bluster says:

    In the absence of warp drive or hyperspace or jumps or wormholes or ???, distances are just too great.

    In 2016, NASA estimated Pioneer 10 to be approximately 10 billion miles from Earth, traveling 26,900 mph. If it doesn’t get hit or destroyed by space debris, it’ll be surpassed by the still active Voyager 2 probe in 2019. It will take approximately two million years to reach the closest star.

    I sure hope whatever is out there is ready for this.
    (I sure hope they don’t think that it’s Trump and Stormy!)

  34. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Everything that happens in space is in support of what happens here on the lands, seas, and in the air of planet Earth. To introduce a whole ‘nother bureaucracy in the equation seems completely wasteful as well as inefficient.

    Everything that happens on the seas in in support of what happens on land, which is where all of Earth’s people live. But we’ve had a Navy for all but a handful of years going back to the War for Independence. We introduced an Air Force in 1947, even though air operations simply support the ground. We introduced a new bureaucracy to deal with Cyber warfare just a couple years ago.

    We’re constantly introducing new bureaucracies. To deal with emerging issues. I’m skeptical that we need a new one for space—let alone a whole new Service. But it’s not idiocy.

  35. Andy says:

    @James Joyner:

    The Air Force wasn’t originally created simply to “support the ground” and it’s roles, even today, extend far beyond that. For most of its history, the primary mission of the Air Force was nuclear deterrence – a mission about strategic annihilation, not tactical support to ground operations.

    Additionally, most other world Air Forces are separate services for largely the same reasons we continue to have an independent Air Force. Independent air forces will be needed as long as people continue to believe that air forces only exist to serve ground forces.

  36. Gustopher says:

    In a bipartisan vote last month, the House of Representatives approved legislation that would direct the Defense Department to build a new “space corps” within the Air Force.

    There’s no air in space. You can’t have a Space Corps as part of the Air Force. It’s just wrong.

    They can name the Air Force to be the Significantly Above Ground Level Force, or something, and it will all be good.

  37. James Joyner says:

    @Andy: I’m not contending that air forces exist primarily to provide tactical support to ground forces but rather that humans live on the ground and all military forces support a mission that’s inherently ground based.

  38. wr says:

    @al Ameda: “Media: ‘Just look at these appalling detention camps.’
    Trump: ‘I have directed the Pentagon to establish a Space Force!’
    Media: ‘What’s this about a Space Force?”
    Trump: ‘Good dog!””

    That’s been the pattern up until now, but it seems like that dog won’t hunt anymore. I’ve seen one or two small pieces about “Space Squad” but they’ve been buried under outrage over Kiddie Koncentration Kamps.