On February 19th, President Trump signed Space Policy Directive 4, (SPD-4), which directed the Department of Defense to create a sixth branch of the military under the Air Force. The purpose of this force would be to “…the United States Space Force would be authorized to organize, train, and equip military space forces of the United States to ensure unfettered access to, and freedom to operate in, space, and to provide vital capabilities to joint and coalition forces in peacetime and across the spectrum of conflict.” To be successful, the memorandum will require congressional approval to be fully implemented into the Department of Defense.
Under SPD-4, an Undersecretary of the Air Force for Space would be appointee by the President and approved by the Senate. In addition, there would be a Chief of Staff of the Space Force that would serve secretary on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
While it has been hailed by some, one of the main criticisms of this proposal is the fact that the Air Force already has a space command. Known as Air Force Space Command, has a force of 30,000 personnel under its command and operates across the United States. In addition, SPD-4 calls for a new bureaucracy within the Department of Defense; which already is already plagued with an already large bureaucracy of 3.36 million personnel (including the 1.4 million active duty, 1.1 million reservists, and 861,000 civilian personnel).
The call for the Space Force points to adversaries beginning to do the same with their military capabilities. According to a report by the Pentagon, both China and Russia have been testing space military tools. China has been testing anti-satellite and anti-ballistic weapons that could be deployed in space and Russia has been testing gliders that could avoid radar and anti-missile detection.
Finally, it is important to keep in mind the importance that the digital age has put on society’s increased reliance on the internet. With the militarization of space, industries could be impacted by rival nations abilities to impair satellite communication or cloak military movements from observation satellites.
To conclude, the creation of a Space Force has sparked criticism and questions about the rationale behind such a move. However, it’s important to note that while the memorandum has sparked criticism, the militarization of space is a major change in the geopolitical battle for supremacy on planet Earth.