Small Wars Journal

Let’s Call it “Starfleet Command”!

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 10:17am

Let’s Call it “Starfleet Command”!


Morgan Smiley


The recent announcement by President Trump to establish a separate Space Force may, for some, conjure up visions of laser-armed astro-troops launching themselves out of a space shuttle blasting away at evil-doers orbiting high above our skies (ok….I admit it…I liked “Moonraker”).  Others might envision a near-future scenario where a “space trooper” arrives at the gates of Fort Death Star, just outside Roswell, New Mexico, home of the Headquarters, United States Space Force, whose gates are protected by armed robots built by Boston Dynamics and nick-named “cylons”.  But most are probably thinking, “What the frak sort of decision is this?”.


This idea was briefly raised at Small Wars Journal several years ago:

- United States Space Force ……we may want to consider doing away with the Air Force as it is currently configured and reorganize it into a service that maintains dominance from space.

Give to the Army the A-10s, F-15s, & F-16s and let them handle air dominance over their areas of operation (along with the Navy and Marines).  The new Space Force can enhance all of that using their space-based platforms as well as maintain complete, horizon-to-horizon situational awareness of enemy air and space assets, potentially dealing with them before they threaten US & allied interests.  Strategic air capabilities, like bombers, (intercontinental) ballistic missiles, and cargo transports will be retained by the new service since its global perspective is, by definition, strategic.

The Space Force may also be the service of choice to lead cyberspace operations as it will be positioned, literally, to observe all areas of the globe in real-time.  Using the latest in computer and communications technology we can reduce reaction time to any threats potentially by using cyber-capabilities to attack and disarm threat network systems and/ or navigational guidance systems of threat weapons, missiles, etc. that are targeting our assets (like bombers or cargo aircraft).

Given the apparent emphasis our near-peer competitors have placed on the militarization of space and cyberspace (Chinese anti-U.S. space efforts, Russian cyber efforts in Estonia & Ukraine), it makes sense for the U.S. to move in that direction as well.  For years each of our services has developed a growing interest in space and its impact on service-specific domains.  The Navy has Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, or SPAWAR; the Army has Space and Missile Defense Command with its 1st Space Brigade; the Air Force has Space Command.  While each element has a service-specific focus for their space elements and share a strategic outlook, including a heavy involvement in cyberspace operations, they’re consigned to “second-tier” status in favor of more parochial efforts.  The Space Force can be the one service that has space and cyberspace as its primary focus, allowing the other services to concentrate on their areas of expertise.


Our Air Force allowed us to go from air superiority to air dominance.  In order to maintain it, we need to go higher.  From that higher level, we can protect the vital assets that allow our modern high-tech society to function.  The Space Force can ensure: air/ missile threats are quickly dealt with through its horizon-to-horizon perspective; space-based platforms, particularly navigation and communications satellites, are protected; and using the latest technology, effective functionality in cyberspace to protect us within “inner space”.