The Space Force might have become a subject of jokes on Twitter, but it is a serious business. Proposed by Donald Trump, the Space Force is a means of launching the earth’s military matters into orbit. An organized space force is going to be centered around guarding and using essential satellites in the earth’s orbit. This is important for countries like the U.S. and its foes that boast a modern hi-tech approach towards warfare.
America is already in search of the country’s finest for its Space Force. This does not come close to the science fiction fantasies we would have had just a few years back. It’s just like any other job listing. The first Space Force recruitment video came out on May 6. Since then, officials have been buried under an avalanche of applicants.
What Is the Space Force?
The U.S. Space Force was inaugurated on December 20, 2019. The Space Force is expected to be starting operations, or as they say at the Pentagon, “stood up,” over 18 months. This implies that we can expect it to launch by full force in mid-2021. Its set of responsibilities were formerly mentioned in the branch’s official fact sheet. These include “training military space experts, obtaining military-grade space systems, and improving the military doctrine concerning space power.” The project is backed by the National Defense Authorization Act that provided $40 million to kickstart the project.
The helm houses General John “Jay” Raymond, America’s first Chief of Space Operations, and the Space Force was introduced as the sixth branch in the U.S. military. In stature, it’s meant to be equivalent to the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, and the Air Force. There is, of course, a bit of constitutional nuance to this. The Space Force falls under the authority of the Secretary of the Air Force. This is in accordance with how the Marines are under the Secretary of the Navy. In its current fetal stages, it’s heavily dependent on its sibling. The existing Air Force Space Command has suffered a tectonic shift. This is characterized by existing Air Force personnel transferring over the Space Force. The newly formed branch will soon cumulatively manage all space-related missions across the U.S. armed forces.
What Necessitates a Space Force?
This idea of militarizing the cosmos first started gaining traction after a casual mention by Trump himself. The President used the words “space force” in a public address held in March 2018 for the Marines. Trump mentioned that his cabinet was doing a “tremendous amount” of work in space, hinting at forming a new force altogether.
Nobody took that very seriously at the time, chalking it up as a throwaway line. It was within the next three months that Trump made his intentions clear. At a National Space Council meeting, with Vice President Pence acting as its chair, the process for forging a sixth branch of the military was greenlit for the Department of Defense. According to Trump, the mere American presence in space would simply not do and what America needs to strive for is dominance in space.
The President doesn’t possess the authority to assemble a military cabinet on his own. This authority comes under the Congress, which last put it into practice in 1947 when they cleaved the Air Force out of the Army.
October 2018 marked the approval of six recommendations by the National Space Council. These were addressed to the President and accounted for Trump’s fourth Space Policy Directive. These appeals lay the base for the Space Force to stand on. This is characterized by the makings of a new and unified space command. A new space technology procurement agency will also be established, along with an interagency review of space capabilities being initiated. Pence also stated during his speech that the Space Council and the National Security Council would collaborate to “remove red tape” around the rules of engagement in space. This can be boiled down as a means of finding a loophole in the insistence of the international Outer Space Treaty that advocates that activities in space be peaceful.
So What Can We Expect So Far?
The legislative proposal by the Pentagon regarding the nation’s youngest military service reveals some new details. So far, there aren’t any plans for starting a separate academy for The Space Force. However, the Pentagon does aim to transfer personnel into this faction over the coming years. The Space Force legislative proposal narrates organizational details, personal plans, and cost estimates. These will be included in the Air Force. These details are still hanging in the air. It is now Congress’s responsibility to authorize these plans in the NDAA 2020 and bring the Space Force to fruition.
Patrick Shanahan, the current Defense Secretary, cited the Space Force as “a historic moment for our nation.” This legislative proposal that will make the Space Force an armed forces branch, is a calculated step taken by the Department of Defense. It will pave the way for securing the country’s prime interests in outer space.
Defense officials in high-standing positions also mention the lack of a recommendation to enact a discreet Space Force academy. But the proposal does emphasize recruitment. According to officials, this might take the form of a training center.
The Pentagon looks forward to around 15,000 personnel in the fleshed-out Space Force. This arsenal would include the civilians, enlisted, and officers on deck. There is a high probability of most of the body of the force being made of transfers from the Navy, Air Force, and the Army. Even still, at a mere 15,000, it will be America’s smallest military service.
Who Is Eligible to Reach for the Stars?
A recent news release sheds more light on the specifics of the Space Force’s eligibility criterion. Officials suggested that any service member on active duty would be able to volunteer to transfer, though a new update suggests that only certain airmen would be eligible for this move. The Space Force very clearly mentioned how enlisted personnel in existing space career fields, Active duty Air Force officers, and select other career fields are eligible to apply for transfer. An approximate of 16,000 military personnel and civilians from the past U.S. Air Force Space Command is said to get assigned to the new service. U.S. Space Force senior enlisted advisor Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman stressed that an individual’s choice to transfer is a personal decision.
There are also certain specific demands for eligibility for a transfer. This is based on the space career field officers, and members are enlisted in. These are as follows:
- Space Systems Operations (1C6)
- Space Operations (13S)
Other members and officers in other career fields that are common to both the Air Force and Space Force are also eligible. These include:
- Intelligence (14N)
- Developmental Engineer (62E)
- Acquisition Manager (63A)
- Cyberspace Operations (17X)
- Operations Intelligence (1N0)
- Signals Intelligence (1N2)
- Geospatial Intelligence (1N1)
- Targeting Analyst (1N8)
- Fusion Analyst (1N4)
- Client Systems (3D1)
- Cyberspace Support (3D0)
Transfer protocols for officials of the 1C6 and 13S space career fields would be initiated in September. Transferring is entirely based on their choice; it is voluntary. Air Force space operators who decide not to opt for the force will look for other alternatives to pursue. There is a different story for those in organic space careers that decline the transfer. According to the Space Force, “(members) will receive assistance in examining other options, including how to apply into another specialty for retraining, applying for retirement or separation, or applying for the Reserve or National Guard, if eligible. In the meantime, those service members will remain in the Air Force and may be assigned duties in the Space Force.”
The future we have envisioned for decades is finally being realized. It might not be as illustrious as we had hoped, as the complexities of the real world make fantasies lose their charm. Yet we follow President Trump’s bold vision for space. Legislation decisions are being made at a very fast pace; allocation of resources and personnel are being given its necessary importance. As it is, the United States is on the road to be able to compete, deter, and, if needed, even win in this complex cosmic domain.
If someone believes they fall under the criteria for eligibility, they should give the Space Force a chance! According to a Department of Defense source, transfers of members of other services to the Space Force will be reviewed on a “case by case basis.” The administrative processes for doing that still have to be ironed out.