Pros and Cons of Trump's Space Force | NTK Network Pros and Cons of Trump’s Space Force

Pros and Cons of Trump’s Space Force

The president and his supporters are bullish on the plan to create a sixth branch of the armed forces, but the Space Force has its detractors.

By NTK Staff | 08.09.2018 @4:00pm
Pros and Cons of Trump’s Space Force

With Vice President Mike Pence’s announcement on Thursday that the Trump administration will pursue the formation of the Space Force prior to the end of President Trump’s first term in 2020, the United States moved one step closer to establishing the sixth branch of the armed forces.

Trump is excited about his new program, touting it at rallies and dedicating much of his administration to the project. But inside some corners of the military bureaucracy and Department of Defense, the plan has met resistance.

Here are some of the arguments for and against the Space Force.


Adversaries’ counter-satellite capabilities: Both China and Russia have worked in recent years to develop anti-satellite capabilities. Both countries’ ground-to-space missile programs may soon be able strike U.S. satellites as they orbit around the Earth. Given U.S. reliance on satellite transmissions for communications, reconnaissance, and GPS, attacks on America’s roughly 120 military satellites could hinder U.S. warfighting on the ground. It may serve U.S. interests to devote an entire military branch to protecting America’s space assets.

Preparing to fight wars of the future: The satellite problem presents a problem for the now, but major wars of the future could be won or lost above Earth’s atmosphere. China has formed its own Space Force-style military arm of the People’s Liberation Army – the Strategic Support Force (SSF). The SSF thus far has managed China’s anti-satellite tactics, including satellite-to-satellite weapons, but it’s possible that a future war could potentially involve space-to-ground bombardment. If space warfighting ever reached that level of intensity, the United States would want a branch to handle defense posture in orbit.

Space program grew U.S. economy: Reinvigorated space development would probably continue America’s remarkable economic growth. Government spending on space programs could be viewed as an investment rather than a burden on U.S. taxpayers. A study from the early days of the U.S. space program found that $25 billion in space spending turned into $52 billion in economic gains. The study predicted that gain would turn to $181 billion in economic returns a decade later.


Bureaucratic overlap: Many in the Defense Department believe that the Air Force currently and sufficiently handles U.S. space military concerns. The branch has tens of thousands of personnel dedicated to defending America’s space interests, and the relative lack of an overwhelming, clear, and present danger emanating from space means that the Trump administration may be creating an entirely unnecessary federal bureaucracy.

Arms control: Stretching back to the Cold War, the world’s major powers have attempted to keep space weapons-free. But the creation of national military space units could spark a new arms race beyond Earth’s atmosphere. Most of the world’s countries, including the United States, Russia, and China, are members of the Outer Space Treaty, which prohibits weapons of mass destruction in space. Militarization of the expanse could lead to countries abandoning the terms, or even simply the spirit, of the agreement and placing potentially devastating weapons in orbit.

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