Space

Trump Ignores Critics, Claims 'Everyone Is Very Excited' About Space Force

In Trump's world, "everyone" is absolutely thrilled about his widely criticized plans to establish an entirely new branch of the U.S. military.

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Polaris/Newscom

"Everyone is very excited" about the establishment of a Space Force, President Donald Trump said Wednesday. Numerous critics of creating a sixth branch of the U.S. military say otherwise.

Trump made this assertion during his speech at a July 4 military appreciation event on the South Lawn of the White House. "We have the Air Force—and by the way, I might add, we very well may soon have the Space Force. You've been hearing about that," the president said. "Everyone is very excited about that."

Trump officially announced plans to establish the Space Force as a co-equal branch of the military during a meeting last month of the National Space Council. "When it comes to defending America, it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space," Trump claimed. He instructed the Department of Defense and the Pentagon "to immediately begin the process necessary to establish" a Space Force.

The United States already has the most powerful military in the world. Why not press our advantage and expand into space?

It's not that simple, according to Bryan Nakayama, an international relations expert and visiting lecturer at Mount Holyoke College who specializes in the relationship between technology and warfare.

Writing in Fortune, Nakayama notes that there are already various defense agencies that deal with space, though for the most part they are tied to their own "parent services." According to The Wall Street Journal, which cited a 2016 study from the Government Accountability Office, there are "60 distinct entities that deal with assets in space." Thus, the establishment of a Space Force would be quite confusing, as all of these agencies with "differing organizational cultures and allegiances" would have to find a way to coexist under one banner, Nakayama writes.

It's also worth pointing out that the U.S. already has a kind of Space Force—the Air Force Space Command. According to the Journal, more than 36,000 people work for the Air Force Space Command. Setting up a new headquarters for the Space Force "would spawn hundreds of new aides and staffers."

And that's not all. According to Nakayama, the U.S. depends heavily on Russia for imported rocket engines and "regular access to the International Space Station." Russia, meanwhile, has expressed apprehension about the creation of a U.S. Space Force, warning of a "tough response" if the U.S. pulls out of the U.N. Outer Space Treaty. Establishing a Space Force when the U.S. can't even get into space on its own seems ill advised, all the more so when considering the dangers of having a branch of the military depend on one of America's biggest rivals.

There's also the issue of the potential weaponization of outer space. The Outer Space Treaty prohibits the use of weapons of mass destruction in space, as well as the installation of military bases on the moon and asteroids, but as the University of Kent's Gbenga Oduntan notes, the treaty does not preclude member countries from deploying other kinds of weapons in outer space. If Trump's Space Force triggers an arms race in space, we could see "a total disruption of the agreed law that outer space is the common heritage of all humankind."

People who support space exploration are also opposed to the creation of a Space Force. Mark Kelly, a retired astronaut and Navy combat veteran, called it a "dumb idea," explaining on Twitter that "The Air Force does this already."

"What's next, we move submarines to the 7th branch and call it the 'under-the-sea force?'" he wrote.

Even Defense Secretary James Mattis, who has no choice but to follow Trump's orders, doesn't seem to be a fan of the Space Force. When a bipartisan group of lawmakers tried to include language creating a new "Space Corps" in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, Mattis strongly opposed the idea, writing in a letter, "I oppose the creation of a new military service and additional organizational layers at a time when we are focused on reducing overhead and integrating joint warfighting functions."

Trump's assertion that "everyone is very excited" about the Space Force isn't exactly true. Trump being Trump, though, the criticism may only fuel his enthusiasm.

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  1. “That Palpatine is a wonderful man. He’s a tough guy. Very tough, tough but fair. He doesn’t let those rebels get away with anything like America does. He walks into the room his people stand up and play a song. I wish we had a song. I want my people to stand up like that. The way he shoots lightning out of his fingers like that you can tell he’s a very great leader.”

    1. “The Jedi Order is doing a fabulous job of enforcing the Republic’s laws on intergalactic trade. Strong leaders, using violence only when necessary!”

      1. “The two sides need me to help them make a deal, work out their misunderstandings.”

      2. “Well, I do think there’s blame- Yes. I do think there’s blame on both sides. You look at both sides. I think there’s blame on both sides and I have no doubt about it and you don’t have any doubt about it either and- and- and- and if you reported it accurately, you would say it.”

        *sets fire to Ahch-To Library*

  2. I’d settle for a Pentagon program to reward a contractor for building a warp drive.

    We’ve paid more for worse. Yeah, I know, that kind of logic will eventually spend us into the poorhouse.

    But if the poorhouse can go faster than light, then maybe we can leave the debt behind.

    All the progressives can stay behind in their Malthusian world of socialist delight–and all the debt that entails. I might rather go off with the Mormons looking for Kolob.

    No, there won’t be any beer on board, but the taxes will be low, and I won’t have to wear a motorcycle helmet if I don’t want to.

    1. To infinity, and beyond!

    2. if ftl was possible we’d already know – since ftl travel is, according to the same gaps on relativity that don’t outright forbid it, equivalent to time travel.

      if you could research ftl travel you wouldn’t need to.

  3. The juvenile sci-fi nerd part of my brain is pretty interested, but the rational libertarian part of my brain has doubts.

  4. Space is already militarized. I would prefer to just keep the Space mission to the AF’s Space Command though. We don’t need any more overhead.

    1. *All* space is overhead, just look up and see!

      1. I assumed that was the joke.

        1. Like that would stop me.

  5. The Outer Space Treaty prohibits the use of weapons of mass destruction in space, as well as the installation of military bases on the moon and asteroids

    LOL

    Has there ever been a treaty worth the paper it was printed on? Countries sign treaties because it looks good. I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to predict that the first country that is able to install a military base on the moon will do exactly that.

    1. If libertarianism has taught us nothing, it’s that a couple hundred tons of rice sitting on the moon actually constitutes a weapon of mass destruction.

  6. The fact that there are 60 different agencies that deal with space assets under different departments is more an argument for consolidation than against.

    1. The iron law of bureaucracy pretty much guarantees that true consolidation, i.e., job cuts, will not happen.
      Going from 60 bureaus to 61 isn’t really an improvement.

      1. Going from 60 to 1 would be though.

        1. Not if all staff were maintained, plus the multi-year contract for “project management and oversight consultation.”
          It’s not the number of bureaus, it’s the number of bureaucrats. To say nothing of the outside contracts.

          1. Actually discussing consolidation and government downsizing is a big change for America. Of course bureaucrats will fight for their jobs.

            Its the dismissal of a government consolidation as crazy that is crazy.

            Lots of TDS out there.

            1. It’s not just government.
              The iron law of bureaucracy is in play everywhere, not just in government.
              It’s just that government has fewer incentives to overcome it, and more incentives to double down on it.
              But every organization faces the challenge.

    2. The fact that there are 60 different agencies that deal with space assets under different departments is more an argument for consolidation than against.

      That’s the argument used when Congress created Department of Homeland Security. Look how well that played out.

  7. You can pry my space gun out of my dozen in vaccum, dead hands!

  8. It’s not that simple, according to Bryan Nakayama, an international relations expert and visiting lecturer at Mount Holyoke College who specializes in the relationship between technology and warfare.

    Writing in Fortune, Nakayama notes that there are already various defense agencies that deal with space, though for the most part they are tied to their own “parent services.” According to The Wall Street Journal, which cited a 2016 study from the Government Accountability Office, there are “60 distinct entities that deal with assets in space.” Thus, the establishment of a Space Force would be quite confusing, as all of these agencies with “differing organizational cultures and allegiances” would have to find a way to coexist under one banner, Nakayama writes.

    So condensing 60 government groups that deal with space into 1 is confusing? Sounds like this ‘expert’ has no idea what he is talking about.

    1. See above, reference Department of Homeland Security.

  9. There’s also the issue of the potential weaponization of outer space. The Outer Space Treaty prohibits the use of weapons of mass destruction in space, as well as the installation of military bases on the moon and asteroids, but as the University of Kent’s Gbenga Oduntan notes, the treaty does not preclude member countries from deploying other kinds of weapons in outer space. If Trump’s Space Force triggers an arms race in space, we could see “a total disruption of the agreed law that outer space is the common heritage of all humankind.”

    People who support space exploration are also opposed to the creation of a Space Force. Mark Kelly, a retired astronaut and Navy combat veteran, called it a “dumb idea,” explaining on Twitter that “The Air Force does this already.”

    So the Air Force “does it already” but Trump doing something in space would violate a space treaty?

    1. Earth is the common heritage of mankind, but we have plenty of weapons there.

      1. You know ICBMs already go into space before returning to earth?

        Creating a way to nuke asteroids and meteors that will wreck Earth might be something worth spending money on.

        I dont want another arms race like we had with the USSR but people through superior firepower has worked well for the USA. China is not building man-made islands in the South China Sea for more sunbathing areas.

        Besides stepping up our exploration of space is not a bad idea. NASA has too much TDS to do their jobs well.

        1. uhm, nukes make potential asteroid impacts worse.

          far better to intercept early and just spend the time nudging the thing out of the way.

    2. “”The Outer Space Treaty prohibits the use of weapons of mass destruction in space, “”

      God rods?

  10. You know … before there was an Air Force, the U.S. Army Air Corps did what they wanted the Air Force to do.

    1. You are adding facts to a TDS article.

      I think there are more important things to spend effort on but this Space Force is not this bad idea that the media is pushing. Condensing 60 departments down to 1 seems like a good idea to me.

    2. and the air force came about after the army air corps became large enough to be able to pull internal resources and people away from the army’s mission.

      Ome day the USSF will make sense. doing it right now would be like setting up an air force in 1910.

  11. Numerous critics of creating a sixth branch of the U.S. military say otherwise.

    Sixth?

    Army
    Navy
    Marine Corps
    Coast Guard (sort of under some conditions)

    What’s #5?

    1. Air Farce with wings made of lead.

    2. Why not count the Air Force? Or is that a joke I’m missing?

    3. Coast Guard is not and never has been part of the DOD nor is it considered a military force – though it is one of the seven uniformed services.

      it used to be in the Dept of Transportation and is now part of DHS and is, technically, a police force.

      and you forgot to list the air force.

  12. Drat, forgot to close the blockquote.

  13. I DEMAND THE UNITED STATES SPACE FORCE BE A REALITY

    1. And thousand-dollar space toilets!

  14. Uh, there’s no air in space, Mark. That’s why it’s called space. I would’ve thought they covered that in astronaut school.

  15. Having been on Air Staff at the Pentagon, I can say without hesitation that creating a Space Force is long overdue.

    USAF senior leadership doesn’t give a crap about space except as a supporting function (i.e. “yo why don’t my comms work” and “where is my imagery”). The fact that the USAF has the preponderance of ballistic missiles and is not responsible for missile defense is an example of it’s stupidity. I’d go even one step further and transfer all of the really big UAVs over to the Space Force as well, since running those things has more in common with running a satellite than an aircraft.

    For those people still giving a damn about Soviet era space treaties, which were terrible ideas at the time on par with the Iran deal, grow up and realize no one who matters is playing by the agreed to rules. Sure the Euros will cry about it, but they are too broke to do anything there. And the Chinese are very active in this domain.

    Space is no different from any other terrain and we need to get it together regarding maintaining an advantage capability wise. Nuclear reactors, nuclear propulsion and God rods are all coming. Better to be first on base than on the receiving end.

  16. Really? Mark Kelly is the only twitter quote you could come up with?

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