Patricia A. O'Malley
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The American Space Force
What it is and why Congress said we need it.
December 3, 2021
In 2019, Donald Trump signed the federal funding legislation which created the United States Space Force.
The stunt was widely ridiculed by pundits and comedians, but it is a real thing.
Our Constitution allows Congress to make all laws necessary and proper to provide for our common defense and general welfare. (Article I. Section 8. Clauses 1 and 18)
Apparently, a majority of the 116th Congress thought that Space Force was “necessary and proper”. Or something.
At the signing, Trump said "Space is the world's newest war-fighting domain. Amid grave threats to our national security, American superiority in space is absolutely vital. And we're leading, but we're not leading by enough. But very shortly we'll be leading by a lot."
According to its website, “The U.S. Space Force is a military service that organizes, trains, and equips space forces in order to protect U.S. and allied interests in space and to provide space capabilities to the joint force. USSF responsibilities will include developing Guardians, acquiring military space systems, maturing the military doctrine for space power, and organizing space forces to present to our Combatant Commands.”
WHY WE NEED A SPACE FORCE
The website says that space is so essential to our security and prosperity that we need a military branch dedicated to protecting and securing it for us. It’s crucial to our national defense and indispensable to our way of life and our economy.
“For example, satellites not only power the GPS technology that we use daily, but
allow us to surf the web and call our friends, enable first responders to communicate
with each other in times of crisis, time-stamp transactions in the world financial
market, and even allow us to use credit cards at gas pumps.”
When the Department of Defense separated the Air Force from the Army in 1947, they transferred some facilities and equipment to the new military branch.
In 1982, the Defense Department created a Space Command division in the Air Force. That was re-designated as Space Force in 2019. So now, the Air Force is in the process of transferring some Space Command assets to the new Space Force. (See the list at the website below.) But Space Force is still a division of the Air Force.
Its website says that 16,000 military personnel were transferred to the new Space Force. Any military member can apply to transfer into Space Force. Those not in the military must apply – and be accepted into – the Air Force first, and then request assignment to Space Force. There’s a link to apply for civilian Space Force jobs on the website.
Space Force is a division of the Air Force, just as the Marines are a division of the Navy. But they each have their own representatives to the president’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, which advises the president on military matters.
The Army has soldiers. The Navy has sailors. Space Force has guardians. I guess Groot is on their flag.
HOW SPACE FORCE DIFFERS FROM NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration – NASA – is a civilian division of the US Interior Department, established in 1958 for peaceful space exploration.
Space Force is a military division of the US Air Force, which is a section of the US Department of Defense.
It was established, according to the president at the time, to make war in space.
THE UN OUTER SPACE TREATY
Words alone are one thing, but if Space Force makes any move to fight a war in space, it would violate the United Nations Outer Space Treaty. Trump and the MAGA crowd probably don’t even know there is such a thing.
The UN adopted the treaty in 1962 and expanded it in 1966. The UN website says:
“The Outer Space Treaty provides the basic framework on international space law, including the following principles:
Trump’s intention clearly violates of items 4 and 5, which prohibit any military use of space.
Item 7 is interesting. It says that the US government is responsible for the acts of private citizens in space, including those of Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. Gee. What could go wrong?
Yes, the treaty is binding. The US Constitution’s Article VI makes all treaties US law. The Senate ratified the treaty on April 25, 1967. Most Americans don’t know that either because our schools won’t teach civics. The World Court at The Hague, Netherlands, would settle any and all disputes. And yes, that’s US law too.
And for all of this, the American taxpayers spend $17.4 billion this year, not counting personnel expenses, which are covered in the regular Air Force budget.
I called Space Force at the Pentagon to ask some questions, but was told to email my questions to a particular person.
He didn’t bother to reply.
There are a whole lot of words and pictures out there, but we still don’t know what it’s really doing.
I guess it's supposed to provide support services for all of the military connections to space.
One thing’s for sure – they’ve done a good public relations job. They have a flashy website, Facebook page, and Instagram and Twitter accounts. That’s a big pile of military obfuscation.
They say that the best defense is a good offense. I suppose it’s a good idea to be prepared for attacks from space, but it won’t take much for defensive systems to become offensive weapons, probably igniting another arms race. Oh good.
Deep Purple’s Space Truckin’ keeps running through my head.
Meanwhile, enjoy the Daily Show’s take on Space Force at the link below.
For More Information
Read the Constitution
Congressional Powers and the Elastic Clause
Space Force website
Space Force bases
United Nations Outer Space Treaty
Learn about Groot
Daily Show Space Force