E. Delaney

E. Delaney

Emma Delaney, News Writer

“I’m hereby directing the Department of Defense and the Pentagon to immediately start the process necessary to establish a space force as the sixth branch of the armed forces,” President Trump declared on Monday, June 18th, 2018. This command spawned news for days. There is controversy about whether or not this is necessary and whether or not it’s just one more drain on the U.S.’s money.

The Space Force is an idea that just ten years ago would have been laughed at and dismissed as science fiction: a sixth branch of the military defending the U.S. and our assets in the off-world. Space, once untouched and vacant, is now an arena of competition and a potential warzone if we don’t act fast. “China and Russia, our strategic competitors, are explicitly pursuing space warfighting capabilities to neutralize U.S. space capabilities during a time of conflict,” according to the Secretary of the Department of Defense. Russia and China are quickly evolving technologically. The battle for dominance expands into space, whether we like it or not, and if we don’t follow, we’ll be easily overtaken. The U.S. depends heavily on space for a multitude of things needed to function as a first-world country.  If our vital equipment is vulnerable, we could easily fall prey to our competitors. It would be suicide to become stagnate.

The U.S. military relies heavily on space for communication, reconnaissance, and missile targeting. Let’s say China progresses into space and destroys our equipment and then fires a missile at the U.S. No one would be alerted of the missile – the Navy wouldn’t be alerted and wouldn’t shoot it down, and the U.S.A. would be done. Hypothetical, you may think, but we already know our competitors are building weapons for warfare. On May 11, 2017, the Director of National Intelligence explained, “Russia and China perceive a need to offset any US military advantage derived from military, civil, or commercial space systems and are increasingly considering attacks against satellite systems as part of their future warfare doctrine. Both will continue to pursue a full range of anti-satellite [ASAT] weapons as a means to reduce US military effectiveness… Some new Russian and Chinese ASAT weapons, including destructive systems, will probably complete  development in the next several years…”

Russia and China are advancing with weapons of incredible capability. According to reports like this one, these countries have been explicit in their pursuits. It seems that now, it’s just a wild dash for space. Those who oppose the Force say that it will be costly and unnecessary. Yes, it will take work: anything worthwhile does. China has shown that they do not care about the interests of the U.S. In 2007, they blew one of their own satellites to pieces, ignoring American protest. What makes people think our protesting will hold any more merit now than it did then? When we lose all communication, GPS navigation, and military effectiveness, what will they say? The fact is that we as a nation rely very much on space, and if we do not dominate it while we can, someone else will have that immense power to carry out whatever intentions they may have.