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Space Force isn't a serious proposal, but China and Russia pose real risks

The Dallas Morning News • Aug 26, 2018 at 11:13 AM

The current president of the United States governs a little, shall we say, differently. So we weren't quite sure how to take his initial floating of the idea of creating a sixth branch of the military to handle out-of-this-world threats.

But since Donald Trump has continued to talk (or tweet) about creating a Space Force, we thought it was worth weighing in with a few thoughts of our own.

For starters, we're strong supporters of our military. Those who don our nation's uniform deserve our respect and support as they seek to preserve the safety and security of our country. And with that in mind, we wonder what value there would be in creating a new branch of the U.S. military.

But then the Air Force already has an organization to support military use of satellites, rockets and cyberwarfare operations and track space junk, and many of the military's top brass say the nation doesn't need a separate new force. In other words, we already have a constellation of agencies and a military branch focused on the key problems.

Former astronaut Mark Kelly put it well in a tweet: "What's next, we move submarines to the 7th branch and call it the 'under-the-sea force'?"

At bottom, our objection is with creating a bloated organization with an ill-defined purpose that will expend billions of dollars to justify its existence. That won't make us safer, and unlike the moonshot in the 1960s, it's unlikely to inspire the nation to both compete with a dangerous foe while also shooting for the stars.

But if there is a real point in all of this talk about a space force, it is that there are security risks high above the earth. For example, Russia and China have restructured their aerospace and military forces to pose a threat to communications satellites. So even as we doubt the seriousness of the very idea of a space force, we can wish the president was doing more to encourage Americans to think seriously about the challenges of space.

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