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Do we need a space force?

Illustration: Carter Klassen · The Sentry

No, it’s not necessary

Opinion by Amanda Blackman

Any proposed branch of the military created to engage in out-of-this-world space battle should not be a priority for the current administration. The creation of Space Force would be relying on non-existent technologies and would raise taxes to create a branch of the military to do the job of a currently existing one.

Right now, the Air Force monitors for intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). While some might argue that Space Force is needed to monitor threats to American safety, that is simply not valid. When was the last time that an ICBM struck American soil as part of an attack? If nothing comes to mind, that’s most likely because the Air Force is effectively doing their job. There isn’t a problem with the Air Force, so why should there be a Space Force to hijack their duties?

The creation of Space Force to manage tasks that are already handled will increase the tax burden on the American public. According to Todd Harrison, Director of Aerospace Security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Space Force would require up to an additional $2.7 billion to American tax payers. To justify that cost, Space Force needs to be an absolute necessity to keep Americans safe. 

Just because there has been conversation surrounding the idea of a Space Force branch of the military, that doesn’t mean that it is appropriate or feasible to execute fledgling propositions. Technology has not advanced in the direction of full-fledged space battles that President Trump had alluded to in speeches following Vice President Pence’s announcement of Space Force.

Once those technologies are available and proving to be a threat to American safety, then the logical progression could convince Congress to create Space Force then.

That day is not here. It is not now. Space Force could be needed to maintain American safety. As for now, just leave it to the Air Force and save Americans the burden of paying for a non-necessary military branch.

Yes, times have changed

Opinion by Alec Witthohn

At first glance, Space Force seems like an absurdity, conjuring up images of science fiction battles among the stars, but it could prove useful as we move forward. A Space Force could help the United States protect its assets in space by expanding into a new branch of our military.

The opponent argues that because intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) have never struck US soil, it demonstrates the effectiveness of the air force. However, they miss the point. A Space Force would only adopt these responsibilities, in turn, taking on a larger set of responsibilities, including the protection of US satellites and space stations.

Currently, the US Air Force (USAF) protects these assets, however, they must divide their attentions between these and protection of US airspace, troop transportation to bases overseas, and, not to mention, air support in offensive operations. Why should air force commanders divide not only their attention but their expertise to two completely different domains?

The USAF did not always function as an independent branch of the military. Just as the US Space Force would grow out of the USAF, the Air Force itself grew out of the US Army during both World Wars, as aviation technologies had only just emerged. These predecessors included the Aviation Section (1914-1918), the US Army Air Services (1918-1926), and the US Army Air Force (1941-1947) to name a few. Wouldn’t it make sense to develop a Space Force from the Air Force’s pre-existing space program?

Space travel became a possibility since 1961 with the Russian rocket Vostok 1 and space combat dates even further back to the V2 missile launched by Germany in 1942. Certainly, the technology has arrived. Moreover, this technology demands expertise and study that has very little in common with the know how in Air Force operations.

My opponent also argues that this technology and a new program would cost American’s $2.7 million. What she leaves out is the fact that this number makes up only 0.00079 percent of the $3.42 trillion dollars projected for 2019’s federal revenues.

The move toward a Space Force is simple and easy. Implementation is cheap, and the transition from Air Force to Space Force will come naturally.

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