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A New Age of Conflict
The U.S. President instructed the Department of Defense and the Pentagon yesterday to begin the process of establishing the sixth branch of the U.S. military, dubbed the “Space Force.”
“It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space,” President Trump remarked earlier yesterday. He also pointed out that it would strengthen national security and create new jobs.
This would be the first new branch of the U.S. military since the Coast Guard, which was founded in 1915. Prior to that, the Air Force was founded in 1907, with the Army, Navy and Marine Corps all having been established in 1775.
“This time, we will do more than plant our flag and leave our footprints. We will establish a long-term presence, expand our economy, and build the foundation for the eventual mission to Mars,” the President declared. In the same speech, he declared his support for privatized spaceflight, saying “we’ll be very happy” if they beat the U.S. government to Mars.
President Trump also signed a new directive for the management of space traffic, which strengthens guidelines on satellite design and navigation. There are more satellites orbiting earth than ever before, and some experts believe that current guidelines are insufficient to prevent disaster.
The President has floated this idea before, as early as March of this year, though it has been discussed by others even before that. The House Armed Services Committee proposed the idea as late as last June, though under their plan it would have reported to the Air Force; Secretary of Defense Mattis criticised the proposed addition of more organizational layers. While few details have been provided, it seems that the Space Force will be a full military branch in its own right.
The idea has unsurprisingly come under criticism from Senate Democrats; Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) tweeted “now is NOT the time to rip the Air Force apart. Too many important missions at stake.” The Senator neglected to mention what made him think that the Air Force was being ripped apart.
China and Russia, who Trump mentioned explicitly as not wanting to lead in space, have yet to respond to this announcement. We could be looking at an entirely new form of warfare here; being ahead of the game is rightfully a high priority for President Trump.