Today at a speech at the National Space Council in Washington, DC, President Trump announced that he had ordered the creation of a sixth military service, the Space Force. (All the media say “sixth” but the Coast Guard is not a military service unless it is ordered transferred to the US Navy by the president, it is actually a law and regulatory enforcement agency.)

“It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space, we must have American dominance in space. Very importantly I’m hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a space force as the sixth branch of the armed forces, that is a big statement.”

What does this mean? Maybe a lot. Maybe nothing. There are a lot of indications that the Department of Defense is not crazy about creating a new military branch and the overhead and budget issues that will come with it. And Congress will need to act in order to actually create this force. After creation, of course, it will have to be manned and equipped but it will probably be fighting for a share of a pie that is at best fixed and likely shrinking. On the other hand, it is very obvious that “space” is not the same as “air” when it comes to areas of combat and the Air Force, which is tied by its budget and traditions to shooting down the other guy’s airplanes and bombing his stuff, is probably never going to give combat in outer space–right now that would be primarily defense of our satellites and destroying the other guy’s satellites–more than lip service.

Internationally, it is going to cause more accusations of the US “going it alone,” because there are at least two UN treaties floating around that would “demilitarize” space.

Will this work? Who knows.

 

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