Should Space Force Be With Us?

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump sent the media into a whirlwind when he openly discussed plans concerning creating a sixth military branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, the Space Force.

Global space industry expansion continues its demand for increased access to space-derived information services such as communications, navigation, weather, and imagery. Both China and Russia have pursued antisatellite (ASAT) weapons using space-based reconnaissance, communications, and navigation systems to reduce U.S. and allied military effectiveness.

For the past few years, both military reforms indicate an increased tension on establishing operational forces designed to integrate attacks against space systems. With the innovation technology, China has reached a point of forming military units and initiated operational training with counter space,  such as ground-launched ASAT missiles. Both Russia and China have begun to launch “experimental” satellites that conduct complex on-orbit activities.

  With the public statement to promote international agreements on the non-weaponization of space by these two countries, the United States, as one of the spacecraft leaders, feels an urgency to topple the competition.

On August 9, Vice President Mike Pence made a statement at the Pentagon that outlines concrete steps that will lay the foundation for a new department of the U.S. Space Force [2].

Vice President Pence addressed four fundamental steps to advance the space operations [3]:

  • Unify leadership and ensure a smooth military integration;
  • Create “war fighters”;
  • Government re-organizations; and
  • Focus on research and advancing space technologies.

The core dilemma for creating a separate Space Force is that it directly conflicts with the duties of U.S. Air Force Space Command which currently oversees the nation’s military space operations.

The political vendetta in this debate is Space Force vs. Cyber Force.

Those that support that Space Force may argue:
• U.S. must be prepared to compete with foreign space forces particularly Russia and China.

• Unify the space command from U.S. Air Force and NASA.• To compete with foreign space operations, Space Force must be created for national security issue.

Those that support Cyber Force argue:
• Space threats may not be our future’s potential risk but cyber threats will continue to impact our daily lives.
• The U.S. lacks in cybersecurity laws and funding in order to compete with hackers.

An assistant professor in the Department of Space Studies at the University of North Dakota supported the creation of Space Force. He compared the Space Force to the U.S. Air Force which was created in 1947. Even though U.S. Army Air Corps played similar roles as the current U.S. Air Force, the advanced technology in the air operations led to the creation of U.S. Air Force, which became the fifth military branch [3].
However, recent ransomware attacks like Wanna Cry in 2017, an attack targeting those who ran the Microsoft Windows operating system, shows the U.S. Government they may need to focus on protecting not only private companies asset but the government themselves. The City of Atlanta spent over $2.6 million on efforts to protect from the SamSam ransomware attack that occurred on March 2018 and infected the city’s system request for about $50,000 worth of bitcoins [4].
Comparing the cost and effect analysis, it is pivotal to invest and advance in both technology dimensions, be it space or cyber. However, in the long-run, there will be more cyber ransom attacks. Cybersecurity executives and professional computer hackers stated that there will be a next cyber 9/11 which puts not only this country not only in a dangerous but also the many other countries bound to the U.S. government.

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Jung Seob "Scott" Kim graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) with a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice and minors in Political Science and Pre-law/History. During his undergraduate studies, he was selected as the first Jillian Smith Intern representing UTA to the Arlington Police Department and received federal internships such as U.S. Marshals Service and U.S. District Court. After graduating from college, he worked as a legal assistant in immigration at a corporate business immigration firm. He was also selected to participate in FBI Citizens Academy, Dallas County Sheriff's Department Citizens Academy, and Dallas County District Attorney's Citizens Academy. Currently, his key areas of interest are Digital Forensics, Cybercrimes, Counterintelligence, Counterterrorism, Criminal Investigations, International Relations, Global Affairs, and Statecraft, and as a Policy Corner writer with PVNN, he hopes to research and publish strong policy recommendations on these issues.

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