A friend posted to my wall on Facebook yesterday shortly after Trump’s declaration of the creation of a Space Force at the Space Council meeting (primarily dedicated to space traffic managements move to Commerce) asking for my reaction. Since yesterday afternoon I’ve seen plenty of memes mocking the idea.
In quotes below is my response to my friend. My expertise is still developing and growing, but here are my two cents, mostly intending to simply clarify the need (and long-time existence) of security threats in space.
“Despite a lot of folks laughing at Trump thinking this sounds ridiculous, it’s actually not (this is not an endorsement of him, to be very clear on that key point), in fact it has been discussed for awhile. Also, know that we haven’t yet seen an actual directive, only the verbal announcement at the council meeting which most of us were watching for the space traffic management directive. Anyhow, back to the space force, for context, earlier this year the House and Senate’s proposals on space organization differed significantly this year: the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 called for the organization of a Space Corps by January 1, 2019 a proposal that was not adopted in the Senate version of the bill and which was opposed by Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Following that there has been significant (if not a bit predatory) criticism on the US Air Force’s handling of space and their procurement process. The USAF has too many friends in the senate to get something like this through there but this directive bypasses that. Related, lots of folks seem to think this is ridiculous and I admit “space force” sounds that way. But I urge people to keep in mind the entire satellite industry including our military space assets. This is a major part of our national infrastructure. In fact GPS satellites are responsible for validating every financial transaction happening electronically in the country. Security of both commercial and public sector assets in space is fundamental to our national security. Further, wars are already fought and space, not with space ships but via satellite nudging, jamming and interference – given the new tech it is a major part of the new war-fighting mission set. Personally I felt the US Air Force was up to the task with some new organizational planning but others obviously felt differently.”
To clarify one of my points above, the administration can’t entirely bypass congress. Trump will need Congress to rewrite Title 10 of the United States Code that specifies the roles and missions of the armed forces.