The US needs its own space force because China and Russia have already gotten a head start, but American ingenuity and the ability to make the “greatest rockets” in the world are right here at home, President Trump said at a rally in Richmond, Kentucky Saturday night.
“Russia has already started, China has already started. They’ve got a start, but we have the greatest people in the world, we make the greatest equipment in the world, we make the greatest rockets, and missiles, and tanks, and ships in the world.”
He said his record $700bn+ military budget that would “fully rebuild the American military” and vaunted that creation of the Space Force, first announced last June, is already underway.
“You know it’s all about space. It’s all about space. Defense, offense, everything is going to soon be all about space,” Trump said before a packed audience in Kentucky.
Based on details from comments made by Vice President Mike Pence in August, the US Space Force is set to become the sixth branch of the Military as well as to help ensure “American dominance in space” by 2020.
Trump was echoing Pence’s prior emphasis, that moving forward on a US military space program is ultimately in response to other nations’ advances in the area. Pence had pointed out, for example, that Beijing’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Strategic Support Force is overseeing the developing and maintaining of the PLA’s space capabilities.
In response to President Trump’s Saturday night remarks invoking Russia as having “already started” its program, Russian state-funded media channels were quick to respond that Moscow is not seeking the militarization of space.
The key difference is in the mission statements. The Russian ‘space force’ exists to “observe space objects, detect threats to Russia in space and from space, and counter them if necessary,” launch satellites for military and dual (military plus civilian) use, obtain satellite intelligence, as well as maintaining them in working order. In short, nothing any country with reasonable satellite-launching capability, including the US, doesn’t already do.
Ultimately what Trump is proposing is of a different nature, seen in the following, according to RT:
What Trump wants to do with his space force is to have the ability to “degrade, deny, disrupt, destroy, and manipulate adversary capabilities to protect US interests, assets, and way of life.”
When Trump first shocked the world by announcing the program on June 18, he expressly said at the beginning of his comments that “we must have American dominance in space.” And followed with: “Very importantly, I am 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.”
But there is evidence to suggest Trump’s words about a Russian leg up in military space capabilities are accurate. Per a recent report in Axios, “Russia has had sophisticated launch systems for decades, in addition to another that tracks objects more than 30,000 miles above the Earth, according to the CSIS 2018 Space Threat Assessment.”
And further a separate February report from the Director of National Intelligence found that both China and Russia are working to develop anti-satellite weapons “that could blind or damage sensitive space-based optical sensors, such as those used for remote sensing or missile defense.”
The Pentagon and Air Force have put estimates for the new Space Force at $8 billion and $13 billion, respectively. This includes initiating a new US Space Command by the end of this year.
But perhaps the more interesting question that remains is who will be picked by the White House to assume the title and awesome responsibility of “Commander of Space”?