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The United States “Space Force”

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The United States “Space Force”

Tyler Kieft, Staff Writer

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On June 18, 2018, at the White House, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he planned on directing the creation of a sixth branch of the armed forces called the “Space Force”, an independent branch he stated would establish greater American power in space. The Space Force would focus on matters not dealt with on Earth, specializing in military satellites and weapons used to defend U.S. spacecrafts from dangerous materials and forces that could cause harm to the country.

“It is not enough to have an American presence in space, we must have American dominance in space,” stated Trump on the topic of the advancements made in space technology and America’s involvement in space. “Very importantly, I’m hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces.”

Not too long after this direction, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence got in on the discussion, providing more details on the Space Force during a speech at the Pentagon on August 9, 2018. Expanding upon the original statements made on the military force, Pence claims that the “elite group of war fighters” will be based on several different branches of military, but in the style of a special operations force.

The reason this concept was brought about was the White House’s fear of galactic threats from dangerous enemies to the United States, like the Russian Federation and the Chinese Republic. Although galactic threats may seem like a stretch, the possibility of such has increased tremendously over the years. Instances of this are centered around those two countries and their technological developments toward creating weapons to manipulate or destroy foreign communication satellites.

For example, on January 11, 2007, China conducted a missile test meant to destroy a Chinese weather satellite and succeeded. With missile tests occurring, many nations at the time expressed a negative response to the militarization in space. The National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe in 2007 stated on the situation, that the U.S. “believes China’s development and testing of such weapons is inconsistent with the spirit of cooperation that both countries aspire to in the civil space area.”

Looking at previous U.S. opinions about militarization is ironic compared to the country’s current goals, as we are now following in the footsteps of our rivals.

A more recent instance involves Russia, in which the country launched a Russian satellite declared as a “space apparatus inspector” in October of 2017. Since its launch, officials inside the U.S. government have questioned its real purpose, as it is believed to have odd behavior that doesn’t match a satellite’s usual orbit.

Yleem Poblete, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance stated on the satellite, “Its behavior on orbit was inconsistent with anything seen before from on-orbit inspection or space situational-awareness capabilities, including other Russian inspection-satellite activities. We are concerned with what appears to be very abnormal behavior by a declared ‘space apparatus inspector.’”

With instances like this at threat for the U.S., the idea of a branch specialized in protecting from foreign forces isn’t too crazy of an idea. Despite the numerous criticisms of the proposal, such as comparing the Space Force to science fiction movies like Star Wars, there have been several people and organizations that see this development as progress and a positive thing.

Astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, for example, when asked by Stephen Colbert on his opinions, said, “I can tell you that many people are thinking that ‘We didn’t have a Space Force before, now we’re gonna have a Space Force.’ We have a Space Force, it’s called the United States Space Command and it’s under the auspices of the Air Force. We already a presence in space: The Air Force launches satellites; the Air Force puts GPS satellites into orbit around Earth.” According to Tyson, the Space Force would simply take over some duties currently designated to only the Air Force, as well as the minimal military action legitimately needed for a possible space war. “Just because it came out of Trump’s mouth doesn’t require that it then be a crazy thing.”

Although pushed repeatedly by the White House cabinet, the proposal first must go through a complex process in Congress before the idea of a Space Force is approved and becomes an official branch. Perhaps in time the Space Force will join itself as the sixth branch of military alongside the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.

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