President Trump Announces Space Force


On June 18, 2018, President Donald Trump officially announced the formal creation of the sixth branch of the American armed forces: the Space Force. “We are going to have the Air Force, and we are going to have the Space Force,” the President announced during a meeting of the National Space Council. According to President Trump, the Space Force will be “separate but equal” from the other branches of the military, citing the new addition as something that will be “so important” for American efforts in outer space.

This announcement came as a shock to some people, but what those who are surprised might not know is that President Trump began discussing the creation of this new branch of the military back in March. Since then, the Pentagon has been debating over the validity of this so-called ‘Space Force’, and it was finally on June 18 that the President pulled the trigger so to speak and authorized the Pentagon to begin work on the Space Force.

The responses to this announcement are mixed. On one hand, some critics argue that the creation of a branch of the military dedicated to, as President Trump put it, “American dominance in space” violates international law. The law being referred to here is The Outer Space Treaty of 1967, a treaty of which the United States of America is both a signatory and a ratifier. This treaty’s main clauses indicate three things: no government will ever block the exploration of another in space and will not lay sovereign claim to any heavenly body, no nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction will be permitted in space, and individual nations are responsible for damages they cause in space. The first clause of this treaty is what has people questioning the President’s decision.

What is especially worrisome to critics is Trump’s desire for American domination of space, something which conjures images of the United States laying claim to distant planets or even places as local as the Moon at some point in the future. If this were to happen, which would be made far easier with an entire Space Force, this would violate the terms of the 1967 treaty. However, all of this is, of course, hypothetical for now.

What is not hypothetical are the higher costs that the Space Force will raise. Both Secretary of Defense General James Mattis and Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson have, in the past, voiced concerns over the creation of a Space Force. Wilson in particular has noted that “the Pentagon is complicated enough” and that “[Space Force] will make it more complex, add more boxes to the organization chart, and cost more money.”

On the other hand, people such as the administrator for NASA have voiced their full support for the creation of a Space Force. Jim Bridenstine, the current NASA administrator, warns that space is “becoming more contested, more congested, and more competitive than ever before.” With this increasing interest in outer space, Bridenstine notes that American interests in space — such as America’s many satellites that orbit the Earth, which are now vital to American life — are at risk, not from direct anti-satellite missiles but from “jamming, spoofing, dazzling, and hacking.” A Space Force, he believes, would protect these assets, particularly from competing superpowers such as China who has called space the “American Achilles’ heel.”

However, the NASA administrator also notes that the Space Force would never be combined with NASA; the two entities must remain separate, one for exploration and research and the other for protection. This is why he, a former Navy fighter pilot and Republican congressman, recommends that the Space Force be under control of the Defense Department, hopefully so that the new branch’s mission remains clear.

In the end, only time will tell whether or not the creation of a Space Force will actually come to fruition. Will the American military help protect and facilitate American assets in space? Will average citizens of our country seeking to enlist in the military eventually end up being deployed to a massive spaceship somewhere in the cosmos? Will America truly come to dominate the final frontier? We will have to wait and see.