The Battle of Pork Chop Hill, the Battle of Hamburger Hill, and the Battle of Bunker Hill, all have one thing in common. Each of these infamous battles throughout American history cost the lives of many, and there’s one dominating factor which applies, each battle consisted of a strategic high ground. From the earliest centuries, battles were most often won by the side who could dominate from above.
In this modern age of space, we are sending new satellites into orbit constantly. Many are spy satellites as well as communication satellites, and today we are working on laser satellites which could be used for offense, as well as defense, as needed to protect America. It is very possible, if not probable, that at some point in time in this century we will need to fight from an unfamiliar place, the earth’s outer atmosphere.
In June 2018, President Trump directed the Department of Defense to begin the process necessary to establish a space force as the sixth branch of the Armed Forces. The reason for a space force is obvious: space is the strategic high ground from which all future wars will be fought. If we do not master space, our nation will become indefensible. And although Congress voted to approve a Space Force in December 2019, it did so while placing restrictions on it, such as that the Space Force be built with existing forces. These restrictions will render it largely useless in any future conflicts.
We are kidding ourselves if we don’t think the world of “The Jetsons”, the cartoon series from the 1960s, will be upon us before the end of this century. Being able and ready to defend that New World, which may be very far above earth, would be a dire mistake.
At the heart of the problem is a disagreement about the mission of a Space Force. The Department of Defense envisions a space force that continues to perform the task the current space assets perform, supporting wars on the surface of the earth. The Air Force on the other hand sees the space force as projecting power through air, space, and cyberspace. In short, the Air Force does not plan to build a space force of the kind America needs. In its lack of farsightedness, the Air Force fails to envision landmasses or cities in space to be monitored and defended. Nor does it envision Americans in space whose rights need defending, despite the fact that in the coming years, the number of Americans in space will grow exponentially.
This lack of forward thinking can be put down to human nature and organizational behavior. People in bureaucratic settings tend to build what they have built in the past and defend what they have defended in the past. For example, in the 1920s the airplane and the tank were developed by the Army. Even the most respected military leaders at the time, Generals John J. Pershing and Douglas MacArthur, opposed independent development of the airplane and the tank because they saw them as subservient to the infantry.
How wrong they were. Our leaders need to be thinking outside of the box.
World War II would have turned out very differently had we not taken the approach we took to developing nuclear weapons with the Manhattan project. Which brings us to assessing where our next biggest threat may come from, as well as from who.
By no surprise, America’s greatest competitor for the high ground in space is communist China, which is already fully engaged in building effective space capabilities. America is not, and unless it gets off the mark soon, China will dominate the economy and domain of space. China is winning the space race not because it makes better equipment, but because it has a superior strategy.
The Chinese are open about their plan to become the dominant power in space by 2049, the Centennial of the end of the Communist Chinese Revolution and of the founding of the People’s Republic of China under Mao Zedong.
If China stays on its current path, it will deploy nuclear propulsion technology and solar power stations in space within 10 years. This will give China the ability to disable any portion of the American power grid and paralyze our military anywhere on the planet. America is spending billions of dollars on exquisite 20th century military equipment, yet no tools to defeat such a strategy.
Last January, China landed the Chang’e 4 spacecraft on the far side of the moon. I certainly wasn’t aware of this and suspect that most of America was not either. At one time this sort of mission was not beyond U.S. capabilities, but it is today, and it shows a commitment to space that we lack. To this point, China has yet to achieve the ability to launch a manned spacecraft, but this is also a capability that we no longer possess. Today, the U.S. relies on Russian rocketry to man and supply the international space station.
China’s goal is to have the capability to shut down America’s computer systems and electrical grids at any time or place of its choosing. Space is the strategic high ground from which China will seek to gain control of our communications, media, businesses, land, debt, and markets.
Although American companies are working on these new technologies, they are doing so in separate silos. Real power lies in tethering or combining the technologies together in space to achieve a dominant economic advantage.
It’s not too late, if we choose to compete with China in space, we have a cultural advantage. America and her people have always been more creative and innovative than China, because we have an open society and a free market. The leaders in our Defense Department think these goals are futuristic and unaffordable. However, one just needs to be reminded of how the New York Times, relying on the opinions of leading scientists and engineers, predicted that airplanes were “one million to ten million years off.” A prediction made less than three months before the Wright brothers made history at Kitty Hawk.
President Trump boasts that we have the most powerful military on the planet, which is all well and good, but will mean nothing if it can’t be used due to our power grid being shut down or GPS satellites being taken out by China’s Space Force.
Contact your Congressional leaders and let them know that you expect their support around our new Space Force. Unlike World War II, when we had the time to gear up and manufacture airplanes, tanks and other war machines, this battle would likely be over within hours.