The Trump Administration has announced an eccentric new plan for the creation of a militarized “Space Force” by 2020. The proposed Space Force would become the sixth branch of American’s military which follows a similar structure to their air and land forces. It would include a wide range of military capabilities such as the ability to track launched missiles, GPS, and satellite activity. These plans are also considered advantageous to assert dominance over possible future threats from China or Russia. However, this proposal may not come into fruition as it has faced scrutiny by political opposition and can only be approved by congress.
To gain support, Trump’s administration began sending out fundraising emails for his 2020 re-election, where he’s asking his supporters to place a vote out of six potential logos. In backing for Trump, the U.S. Vice President Mike Pence stated in a speech on August 9, that “America will always seek peace in space, as on the Earth. But history proves that peace only comes through strength.” Pence also stated that the Congress needs to act to fund the new plans to achieve Trump’s proposal. The following day (August 10) Trump tweeted “Space Force all the way!” to share his enthusiasm for the scheme. Trump’s administration has also been gathering further support at political events. In opposition, Senator Bernie Sanders tweeted on August 9 that “…we should make sure our people are not dying because they lack health insurance before we start spending billions to militarize outer space.” Sander’s comments provide a clearer perspective as ensuring peace and stability within the U.S. should come before securitizing outer space.
The creation of the Space Force seems excessive, as the U.S. military is currently made up of the army, marine corps, navy, air force and coast guard. This proposal also conflicts with the values of the Outer Space Treaty (1967), of which the U.S. is a member. The treaty represents international space law and forbids the moon and other celestial bodies to be used for violent conflict or for housing weapons of mass destruction. With a space command already within the air force, it seems unnecessary to spend what Pence stated would be $6 billion USD to start with. In addition to the $6 billion, the creation of the Space Force would also require an additional headquarters and organizational changes to occur.
President Trump insisted in June that the Space Force needs to be created to fight wars in space. This is due to the belief that the environment in space has changed and the U.S. needs to be prepared to tackle future vulnerabilities by asserting its dominance now. The justification for the Space Force is partly coming from the idea that China and Russia are gradually deploying more satellites, creating airborne lasers and anti-satellite missiles. It also comes from America’s dependence on satellites for intelligence, navigation and communication which, therefore, needs to be protected from future national security threats. However, those opposing Trump’s plans view the creation of a Space Force as an unnecessary, expensive and narcissistic plan which takes away from the Air Force. Democrats such as Senator Brian Schatz and Democratic Senator Bill Nelson were among those who denounced Trump’s plans.
The creation of a U.S. Space Force is a prime example of Trump’s eccentric planning while in office. The view of needing to ensure national security by repetitively upgrading your military puts states into constant competition. Although there is no independent military branch focused on space, there is a sizable space command within the air force already. Therefore, potentially building upon the space command within the air force might be more beneficial and cost effective. It would also pose less of a threat globally by protecting U.S. national security without making other states feel insecure and therefore causing more disruption to the international system.
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