The first reaction, I guess, was mixed.
The idea of Space Force, a sixth branch of the U.S. Military does sound cool. America is brewing a couple of generations of gamers who will have a specialized skill set that could help them become 21st Century American Luke Skywalkers. So it’s not unrealistic the U.S. could create a new branch of space aces.
But how does the US afford something so grand? Couldn't, or shouldn't, the money be spent on more immediate concerns? You know, maybe pay for health care, or infrastructure within the atmosphere, or education, or strengthen the nation's cybersecurity.
As a parent re-introduced to the Star Wars franchise thanks to a 7-year-old son, there is something romantic about the proposition. Ask the kid about it, he's all in.
He's seven, however. He might be all in for a few minutes until something distracts him within 20 seconds and shifts his attention back to Legos.
The name — cue Morgan Freeman voice from The Shawshank Redemption: United States (pause for effect) Space Force — is what plays trick with the mind. My thoughts, immediately, go to dogfights in space.
Which again, come off as awesome, ridiculous, expensive, dangerous and unnecessary.
Turns out, the vision in my head isn't why the Trump administration views the U.S. Space Force as an important next step to protect US assets.
Reading more on the program — beyond the name — you realize there is a need for something like a space force to protect numerous U.S. interests in orbit.
The United States uses about 90 military assets in space right now. They help our soldiers, sailors and Marines stay connected, communicate critical mission ops instantly and keep them abreast of any hostile movement.
Protecting those satellites is critical. That's how a U.S. Space Force would be utilized.
USA TODAY noted this week, that "incapacitating any of the nearly 90 US military orbiters could easily blind American troops maneuvering in combat on the ground. The Chinese demonstrated in 2007 they could hit a satellite (one of their own) with a ground-fired missile. The Russians claim that they also are rushing to develop ways for interfering with orbiting platforms."
Many things separate the United States' military from other nations, not the least of which is the willingness of the American soldier and an incomparable spending budget. The technological advances, including many U.S. citizens have no idea even exist, rank near the top as well. Those technological advantages, coupled with the ability to track threats, give the nation the greatest fighting force in history.
Other nations know they can't compete with the U.S. head to head in a military clash. They could, however, perhaps neutralize a significant American advantage and that is why the administration wants to protect.
Does the United States need an entire separate branch of military to do that? I’d hope not. I hope America’s military power already has, or is very near, this having this capability. If that means expanding the Air Force or the Navy’s aviation program, let’s try that first.
It’s going to be an expensive proposition either way. But it seems more realistic — although a bit sad for the dreamers — to head in this direction first.
Dennis Lyons is on vacation this week. His column returns next Sunday. Bill Bowman is the managing editor of The Daily Item. Email comments to email@example.com