Just a little bit ago, President Trump, in a speech given to Marines in San Diego, described the need for a new military branch called the “Space Force.” He made it sound like this was an idea he just had, out of the blue, sort of like a joke, but, hey, it’s kind of awesome and we should really do it, right? Well, sure. The truth is we have been doing things like this, and planning this sort of thing for quite some time. Only it never sounded quite so stupid.
Here’s what he actually said:
“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.”
Look, I actually think an armed forces branch that operates in space is a great idea. I know, traditionally, there’s been a push to keep space de-militarized, but the truth is that the population density of space is a hell of a lot lower than what it is on Earth. That means that there’s a lot less chance to kill innocent people or destroy homes or property.
Hell, if we’re going to fight, what better place to do it than in the vastest, emptiest place we know?
This, of course, has been understood for decades. Ever since we started launching satellites, it’s been understood that the ability to destroy or impair those satellites is huge strategic advantage.
The Air Force has been active in orbital operations since the 1960s, for example. They currently have a secret, small space shuttle-like vehicle that can remain in orbit for incredibly long stretches of time.
The United States operated the United States Space Command from 1985 to 2002, and those duties were taken over by the Joint Functional Component Command for Space, and was again re-organized in 2017 as the Joint Force Space Component Command.
If you want to know exactly what they do, it sure as hell sounds like what a Space Force would do, according to General William L. Shelton:
“Our prime mission directive in JFCC SPACE is to ensure our freedom of action in space, while preventing adversary use of space against us.”
The Russians have something similar as well, called, creatively, the Russian Space Forces.
Now, as far as having a space-based military branch all to itself, even that’s been proposed, as recently as last June, where a Space Corps would become part of the Air Force, much in the same way that the Marine Corps are part of the Navy.
And then there’s all the unofficial military goings-on in space, of which there’s been plenty, including an actual crewed space station armed with an actual gun. That was the Soviet space station Almaz (known as Salyut 3).
But, no, none of that means shit, because this is just an awesome idea Donald Trump had that started as a joke, but was really just way too awesome, like all his awesome ideas.
He’s right: what a great idea.