The following is an editorial by The Mankato Free Press.
It is a sure-fire applause trigger at President Donald Trump’s rallies: a call to add a sixth branch, the “Space Force,” to the military.
Trump and his core supporters may love the idea. The Pentagon has resisted the notion, although Defense Secretary James Mattis has dropped his opposition. Key members of the Senate are opposed.
We think the opponents are correct. The military’s space operations do require reform and resources, but they don’t need a new, built-from-scratch bureaucracy to get the job done.
The better approach is the one outlined Aug. 9 by Vice President Mike Pence as a transitional measure — the establishment of a “Space Command,” akin to the current geographical commands, which draw resources from the existing military arms (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard) and coordinate activity in specific domains.
Given this president’s habitual unconcern with facts, norms and rules, it’s entirely possible that part of his fascination with the idea of a military force in space is the sci-fi notion of attacking our foes from orbit. Deploying weapons of mass destruction in space was prohibited by the Outer Space Treaty, which was ratified unanimously by the Senate in 1967.
The genuine concern about space isn’t offensive but defensive — protecting our assets there, such as communication satellites. China has successfully hit a defunct satellite of its own with a missile, demonstrating it has the ability to incapacitate at least some of our orbiters. Satellites are crucial not only to civilian life today but to our military as well; the Pentagon has nearly 90 satellites serving as eyes and ears.
So yes, we need to defend those assets. Launching a new service branch, with spiffy uniforms, logos and a bureaucracy of 10,000 people, is less likely to get that job done than insisting on better coordination among the current branches. Space Command, yes; Space Force, no. That may not be a big applause line, but it’s good policy.
Republished with permission.
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