The views and opinions expressed or implied in WBY are those of the authors and should not be construed as carrying the official sanction of the Department of Defense, Air Force, Air Education and Training Command, Air University, or other agencies or departments of the US government or their international equivalents.
By Major General Mark C. Dillon, USAF, retired
/ Published January 20, 2020
Congratulations, America, on creating the US Space Force! As President George Washington reminded us, “To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.”
Creating a US Space Force is not an attempt to militarize space as some argue. That milestone was actually passed decades ago in World War II. Between September 1944 and April 1945, Germany launched more than 3,000 V2 rockets, the first man-made objects to travel into space. These rockets rained terror on Allied cities across Europe and killed more than 9,000 military and civilians. And when Uri Gagarin became the first human to orbit the planet in 1961, any reasonable view of human nature—despite our best intentions—told us that space was forever militarized.
(US Air Force photo by A1C Spencer Slocum)
Figure 1. 2020 NDAA Signing. Pres. Donald Trump speaks during an event at Joint Base Andrews, MD, 20 December 2019. Trump visited Andrews to thank service members before signing the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020, which support the Air Force’s advanced capabilities to gain and maintain air superiority and the Airmen that are essential to our nation’s success.
The new US Space Force—devoted to organizing, training, and equipping the world’s best military in space—could not come at a better time: the return of great-power competition. Fifty years after America first put humans on the moon and 116 years after America heralded the first heavier-than-air human flight, our competitors are aggressively pursuing their national interests in all the commons—here on Earth as well as in space. The 2018 National Defense Strategy states, “It is increasingly clear that China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model.”
Americans harbor no ill will against the good people of China and Russia. However, we do take issue with their governments’ authoritarian models. One only has to look back to the twentieth century to remind ourselves how Chinese and Russian regimes act—killing more than 80 million of their own people. Recent aggression by these competitors—whether in Hong Kong, the South China Sea, Crimea, cyberspace, Syria, or in outer space—reminds us that the last thing we need is for these deadly political regimes to, as Jim Mattis put it, “shape a world [and outer space] consistent with their authoritarian model.”
Congratulations to the newest branch of the military, the US Space Force. As the 2018 NDS states, you are needed to ensure America can, “compete, deter and win in an era of great power competition” in this world . . . and beyond.
Major General Mark C. Dillon
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