Vice President Mike Pence today unveiled the Trump administrations plans to form a sixth military branch called Space Force. Its a stupid idea. As a major science nerd, Star Wars fanatic, and lover of the cosmos the thought of Trumps Space Force causes my inner child to leap for joy and make weird laser sounds. But Im not a child. Im a grown up and a military veteran. And the US armed forces shouldnt be anyones fantasy factory. Don't get your hopes up. Before we go any further, Id like to make it perfectly clear that, were this bad idea to become a reality, my criticism of the program is in no way meant to disrespect the brave people whove served or will serve in the military. This isnt about our nations warriors, its about politics. We dont need a Space Force, plain and simple. Heres four reasons why: The United States Air Force Space Command, established over 35 years ago, is headquartered in Colorado. More than 20,000 military personnel perform missions for Space Command, ranging from deploying and monitoring satellites to guarding against ballistic missiles. It seems silly to form an entirely new branch, just to cover the same duties. This isnt the same thing as when the US Army spun out the Air Force. That was to fill a total void in our countrys defense capabilities. In fairness, Pence today said that Space Force wouldnt be built from scratch, but would instead draw upon existing infrastructure. So the question is, will the Air Force just detach Space Command and supplement it with troops and officers from the other branches, or does the Federal government plan to make the existing branches foot the bill by contributing resources from their own budgets? A better idea would be to sharpen the Air Forces focus and put Space Forces budget into Space Command. Especially since, reportedly, that budget isnt going to be very high. Pence also said today that President Trump wanted to budget $8 billion dollars for Space Force over the next five years. Thats $1.6 billion a year. What kind of bargain bin Space Force are we going for here? An aircraft carrier group in the US Navys fleet costs almost a billion dollars a year to operate. And the construction of the Navys newest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald Ford, cost nearly $13 billion. The Air Force, along with its Space Command, had a budget of nearly $170 billion last year. Im not sure how much of that specifically went to its space endeavors, but Id be willing to make a game show guess it was more than $1.6 billion. By comparison, NASA got almost $20 billion in 2017, and it doesnt have to concern itself with national defense. My point: $8 billion is chump change for a military effort. So what, exactly, is it that Space Force is supposed to do for pennies on the dollar compared to the Navy and Air Force budget, that those branches dont already do? Its mission cant involve a lot of space craft with a budget so small. It doesnt seem like a robust military branch, but a cheap publicity stunt. But people die in the military every single day — even when they arent at war. The military, including any future Space Force, isnt a joke. Unfortunately for my narrative here, Space Force actually began as a joke. Trump was talking to Marines at Miramar (you know, the Marine Corps base where expert pilots from the Navy and Corps train to be Top Guns) about defense spending when he went off script to talk about space, quoting himself somehow: I said, maybe we need a new force, well call it the Space Force, and I was not really serious. Then I said, what a great idea, maybe well have to do that. Im starting to think its not about space or the military, but about invigorating voters. As reported by The Verge, the Trump/Pence PAC just sent emails out asking people to vote on Space Forces logo — ahead of merchandising. And, based on the Twitter reactions Ive seen, the public seems to like the Mars badge the most. It looks like Space Force and Trumps plans to go to Mars are tied together — which only makes sense politically. The Trump/Pence PAC is already trying to monetize the Space Force: "As a way to celebrate President Trumps huge announcement, our campaign will be selling a new line of gear. " Dont get me wrong I believe we need to send a manned mission to Mars. But I cant think of a conceivable reason why the military needs to be worried about going to other planets when were currently fighting the longest war in our nations history right here on Earth. NASA and the private sector seem to have Mars under control. But maybe the Trump administration has top secret information on aliens that makes a Starship Troopers scenario likely. In that case, Im overwhelmingly positive well need to spend far more than $8 billion. Im not the only one who thinks Space Command doesnt need to be its own branch, the brass seems to agree. Former Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James recently told listeners at the Brookings Institution she believe Space Force wasnt a good idea because: It is a virtual certainty that it will be a huge undertaking that will consume a lot of time, effort, thinking. I do not believe we should have a separate space force. The myriad of details which people joke about, the academies, the uniforms and what not, those may seem trivial but they are details that need to be worked out. According to a CNBC report, James said shed spoken with members of the Pentagons leadership who told her that they thought it was a bad idea. She said, none of them are in favor of a space force but they are stuck. The president has said it and it will be interesting to see how they now deal with it. Hopefully the adults in the Pentagon, whove yet to commit to creating an entirely new branch, will find a way to stow Trumps outlandishly irresponsible scheme. Itll waste billions of dollars reinventing the wheel — a wheel the US Air Force already has. And, having served in numerous capacities alongside warriors in the US Air Force, Im quite confident in the capabilities of our current fighters to defend us from threats both here on Earth and above the clouds, and their ability to adapt as the mission requires. And they deserve that same confidence from their Commander In Chief.
US Vice President Mike Pence, speaking at the Pentagon today, revealed more details about a proposed new military branch, a Space Force. While weve known this was a project of the current administration, weve only today received details about how, exactly, it could actually be realized. According to Pence, this militarized Space Force would be part of the Defense Department, and they intended to create it by 2020. Pence also said President Trump would request $8 billion to spend on the space security systems over the next five years. Don't get your hopes up. Needless to say, this would require lots of new infrastructure for the Pentagon, and Pence was quick to say it wouldnt be built from scratch. Here are the specific steps Pence says come next for the fledgling branch: I dont claim to be an expert in governmental spending by a longshot, but I suspect that might cost more than $8 billion. Pence stressed the Space Force would allow America to push back against other countries, such as China and Russia, who are starting to test new tech in space. While the US will always be peaceful, he said, But history proves that peace only comes through strength. And in the realm of outer space, the United States Space Force will be that strength. President Trump has been teasing the idea of the Space Force for quite a while now, and was quite enthusiastic about it on Twitter. Space Force all the way! In June, he directed the Pentagon to create the Space Force, but it wasnt until today we learned details about what the creation of the new branch will be. The Space Force, which would prepare [America] for the next battlefield would be the first new military branch in 71 years — the Air Force having been established in 1947 — and Congress would also need to approve it before it could move ahead. Pence said the Department of Defense will reveal a more detailed report later today.