Among the many topics discussed on his recent appearance on the “Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” Neil deGrasse Tyson articulated his support for the creation of a Space Force. Tyson discussed how through the Air Force the United States has had an operating Space Force and creating a separate branch is not so crazy an idea as many people think.
A Space Force, when understood in the correct context, would be a valuable addition to military operations. However, the current proposed plan would severely limit the branch.
WHAT IS A SPACE FORCE?
First, it is important to understand the true purpose of a Space Force. As outlined in his speech about the plan to create a Space Force, Vice President Mike Pence warned about potential threats to national security based off the recent advancements possible adversaries have made in the domain of space. In 2007, China showcased its military might in space by testing an anti-satellite missile, which was successful. Now, officials warned that China has strengthened their military space activities. The same fears are also directed at Russia.
As many people might think, the Space Force would hasten a seemingly shared opinion that space will turn into a battlefield. Thinking about a Space Force, some may conjure up images of space battles featured in “Star Wars.” Such a reality would be a violation of the Outer Space Treaty.
This is far from the reality of what the Space Force would be doing. Right now the United States and several other countries have a sustained military presence in space with the launching of new satellites.
In fact, the Air Force Space Command acts as our Space Force right now and helps monitor missile launches and develop satellites, which will increase GPS capabilities.THE PROS OF A SPACE FORCE
Though many view the Space Force has a pipe dream, proponents argue compelling points in favor of its creation.
To begin with, the creation of a separate branch of the military would dramatically increase the amount of spending and thus allow new innovations and technology to be created. This technology could also help NASA in its ongoing mission to explore and understand the universe.
The increased budget would also help the United States gain a position of power with more activities in space and lessen the dependence on other countries’ space programs, mainly Russia.
Also, the United States’ presence and exploration into space has been a point of pride and many see the Space Force as the next step in continuing this tradition. The creation of a separate branch would help instill a culture of understanding between the delicate relationship space and militarization.
It could also allow a new generation of professionals to become experts in the field. As a separate branch, military missions in space would be approved much faster.
CONS OF A SPACE FORCE
As with creating any new organization within the federal government, the negatives need to be examined, too.
First, though, the increased budget is seen as a positive, it also causes a financial concern for a government already in debt. As it stands, the estimated funds for creating the Space Force in the fiscal year of 2019 would account for roughly 12.5 billion dollars out of the Defense Department’s 686-billion-dollar budget. It is unclear whether the money requested will be new funds or money shuffled out of other departments. Congress will need to approve any new military branch. Some members have voiced concerns over the Space Force and will not pledge support.
Another effect of the creation of the Space Force is the normalization of space being used for military capacities and not for the advancement of exploration and knowledge. Countries could monopolize space and deny access to anyone they deem a threat. It would undermine the idea that space is for all of humanity to study and enjoy and instead transform space into a new front for war.
SPACE FORCE CREATION
While the Space Force could be a fantastic resource and defense system, the way in which the Trump Administration wants to create it is the wrong way. It limits the Space Force to just a United States asset and does not take into consideration the practicality, implementation or true cost of such a project. The only ideas discussed have been big- picture thoughts.
Space is for all of humanity, not just a few countries. Thus, it stands to reason any threat in space is a threat to all. While the United Nations is a good resource, the fact that Russia and China are both member nations would hinder any discussion on creating a space force.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), should be placed in charge of the Space Force idea, not the United States. NATO can grant access to more people, technology, and funding than just a United States only program, and it benefits all member countries.
The program could be centered in the United States, but by having NATO overhead the program can become more effective and useful in its defense purposes. The threat of space attacks from China and Russia is not only a United States problem. Having the program led by NATO allows all countries to address the situation and creates a stronger more effective source to combat this threat.
Secondly, details are needed to sway public opinion and ensure the most effective outcome of the program. NATO can create a committee with members all around the world to discuss and debate the actual logistics of creating a Space Force.
The Trump administrations call for a Space Force is rooted in very real threats but fails to fully address the problem. The Space Force idea must be discussed and implemented by NATO to achieve its intended goal.