The one hope I had way back in November 2016 was that if elected, Donald Trump would run out of bad ideas. Surely, his border wall, his temporary Muslim ban, his ideas about what women's and LGBTQ rights actually mean were as bad as it was going to get, right? Alas, on Tuesday there were a bunch of tweets about Trump's military "space force" idea that had me thinking about just opening a bottle of wine, turning down the lights, and never getting out of bed again. Because, really, what in the name of all the Founding Fathers is a #SpaceForce?
Apparently, this is a thing that Trump and Republicans have been all jazzed about for some time, as reported by Vox. While speaking to a crowd at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, which is outside of San Diego, Trump told a crowd of service members, according to CNN, "Space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air, and sea. We may even have a Space Force, develop another one, Space Force. We have the Air Force, we'll have the Space Force."
He added to Marines that he came up with the idea all by himself, being the self-proclaimed "stable genius" that he is. Trump explained that while brainstorming on how the United States could invest more in space. "I said, 'maybe we need a new force, we'll call it the Space Force,' and I was not really serious. Then I said, 'what a great idea,' maybe we'll have to do that.'"
Twitter Jumped Right On The Idea
Trump's not alone with wanting to create another military force to protect space, according to Miltary.com A lot of Republicans are actually all about this, with then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld suggesting a "space force" back in 2000, as reported by The Atlantic.
Here's the deal: In space, the United States has a ton of equipment, like satellites that take pictures of Earth and help us do tons of things. Like, surveilling combat zones, mapping things, and a whole host of other important things. Russia and China have been investing heavily into space and part of what the Air Force already does is protect that equipment, according to military documents. The nation doesn't want Russia to take out satellite or China to hack into the machinery and mess things up. It's entirely possible. But again, the Air Force already does this and does it well enough, according to BreakingDefense.com.
It would like to do it better, actually. Which is why, as reported by Wired, it asked for a 20 percent increase in its budget this year to increase its efforts in protecting military equipment orbiting in space from Russia, China, and the random pieces of "space debris" that NASA estimates is up there. A meteor or a Russian missile could do the same damage to our satellites, right? Other experts agree that an entirely new "space force" is unnecessary.
Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told reporters last summer, according to BreakingDefense.com, "The Pentagon is complicated enough. This will make it more complex, add more boxes to the organization chart.”
According to Vox, there are enough problems with managing the Air Force's space endeavors already that could be solved before adding a sixth military branch — like, there's not one person right now to call and ask about space operations, and there should be. The program could also just use more funding to beef up what already exists, which is why the Air Force and Defense Secretary James Mattis both came out against it last year, when Congress attempted to draft legislation to get a Space Force, according the The Hill. He wrote in a statement at the time:
I strongly urge Congress to reconsider the proposal of a separate service Space Corps. I believe it is premature at add additional organization and administrative tail to the department at a time I am trying to reduce overhead.
So there are a lot of things wrong with Trump's Space Force idea. For one, he didn't come up with it. It's a Rumsfeld plan that was shelved in the wake the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. There are much simpler ways to protect our equipment in space without creating a whole new military branch from scratch, and the president has already, according to USA Today, slashed the budgets of NASA and STEM education, so that there are going to be fewer people who know what's going on anyway on Mars, Which might be the first place to start investing in if you're dreaming of a proper Space Force, right? Yet again, Trump seems to be all over the place with this one. Let's hope someone with some knowledge on our space and air programs can bring him down to Earth.
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