President Trump’s announcement that he wants a Space Force has sparked plenty of complaints and tons of memes. He’s not the first to clamor for a space force, but he would be foolish to let the Air Force (which seems like a logical choice) run the Space Force.
The President needs to put a retired Admiral or Marine in charge of any Space Force if he plans to get it off the ground.
Let’s start with what the Air Force would likely do with space: spend lots of money, create a huge logistics and command and control structure, and then continue to put satellites in orbit. It’s exactly in their culture to do this, because the Air Force can’t do expeditionary without incurring a massive logistics train. Take a look at Afghanistan, where the priority was to build massive Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) that had everything from a runway to Green Beans coffee (and then request Sailors fill their billets through the IA process). A quick glance of Air Force strategy shows a continued focus on building more advanced satellites.
The Space Force can’t become the force that runs satellites. Our enemies continue to weaponize space, and we aren’t going to win that fight. We need to do things drastically different, and that involves being able to colonize space. Having a space colony, and being able to continue colonizing elsewhere, puts our enemies at a huge disadvantage, since they can’t possibly hope to wipe out our country in any conflict. Having weapons fired from space that would easily defeat ground based weapons would allow us to maintain an easier peace.
To accomplish this, first we need to be building a remote base on the Moon in order to learn how to best inhabit space. Second, we need to use this base as a launching point to build interplanetary travel that doesn’t suffer the negative effects of trying to escape Earth’s gravity. Lastly, we need to be testing weapons in space so that as we colonize other planets and moons, we can defend our gains and provide pressure on other countries on Earth to not threaten our population.
The Navy is best situated for these challenges. Ships regularly operate for extended periods without shore support. We’ve managed to build submarines that can produce their own air, water, and store enough food to go around the world while submerged. The Navy has taken a minimalist view on luxuries while producing Sailors that can maintain high performance equipment. Navigating without GPS is now being taught again at the Naval Academy. Maximizing the use of limited bandwidth is routine for most ships and especially for submarines. The biggest logistical and navigational challenges for space are being solved daily in the Navy.
Supporting remote colonies is in the Navy’s blood. The British Navy regularly kept British colonies around the world in check. Remember that we declared independence from Britain only to have the Howe brothers whoop our butts, given that they owned the sea and could out maneuver George Washington’s forces. We inherited these Naval traditions and for the longest time supported colonies all over the world, and even now we’re defending sea lanes that ship 95% of the world’s goods.
The Navy has the right culture for Space, and given its history of operating forward with limited support, it’s by far the service best suited to provide leaders for the Space Force.
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