President Trump recently expressed the desire to establish another branch of the Department of Defense (DoD), the Space Force. The President has surrounded himself with brilliant military minds who realize that future wars will be fought partially or completely above the earth’s atmosphere. Since the first Russian Sputnik was launched we have become increasingly reliant on satellites for both civilian and military purposes. Most of us have become totally dependent on GPS (global positioning systems) and navigation software to guide us to our destinations. Our navigation satellites are essential to commercial airlines and air traffic controllers as well. Weather satellites monitor weather systems and accurately predict storm movements that save lives and limit property damage. It was newsworthy when the first trans-Atlantic phone lines were laid to permit communication between the U.S. and continental Europe. Today communication satellites transmit phone, internet and television signals around the world, Satellite networks are largely replacing domestic cable transmission for internet and television service. Finally we have satellites that operate completely under the control of the DoD and monitor adversaries as well as communicate with and direct our own military forces. They are critical for guiding our “smart bombs” to their targets with little to no collateral damage. Satellites have become orbiting platforms for exploring deep space and helps us to understand our own planet and solar system. Telescopes positioned outside our atmosphere gives us a better look at our own and other galaxies. Anything that threatens our extensive system of satellites would threaten our daily lives and national security.
China provided a wakeup call in 2007 when they successfully shot down a “dead” weather satellite with a guided missile. Both China and Russia are developing technology to jam, blind or destroy orbiting satellites. The President’s recommendation for a separate sixth branch of the military emphasizes the important role of space to the future of warfare and civilization. We already have a Space Command within the Department of the Air Force and its headquarters is at Peterson AFB in Colorado. The Space and Missile Systems Center at Peterson AFB overseas military satellites and monitors ballistic missile launches to prevent a surprise enemy attack. Rather than create another government agency, it may make more sense to bolster the current Space Command within the Air Force. We can’t ignore the fact that space will be the next battlefield and must stay ahead of the curve. It is crucial that we develop both offensive and defensive weapons to counter our adversaries. Peace through strength includes the ability to protect our civilian and military satellites. To lack adequate preparation on any front makes us vulnerable to those wishing to harm us.