The “soul” of the Space Force?


"Finally, the debate that should have begun over a year ago has now arrived in earnest. Two different visions for the future of the Space Force have recently been presented to the public.

One is from the president of the Air Force Association, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Bruce Wright. The other by the currently serving Air Force Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast.

These two men encapsulate the two major factions that exist in the Space Force debate. Wright expresses the Air Force’s preferred “warfighting domain” school. Kwast is the most senior and vocal proponent of the maritime-inspired faction that has begun to call itself the “blue water” space school. Which school America chooses to first lead the Space Force will have serious repercussions to the United States for decades to come."  The Hill


I realize that such a post will be of little interest to the people who think a dollar spent on space is a dollar wasted as well as the foreign and domestic Marxists who want all US attention focused on what they  hope will soon be a revolution that makes what is now the US the power house that achieves the world wide communist state that is the object of their desire.

For the rest of us pilgrims it is probably clear that the US will continue to exist for a while and will continue to have armed forces.  Among these will be the US Space Force, a separate service within the Department of the Air Force much as the USMC is a separate service within the Department of the Navy.

The author of the linked article posits a division of thought as to what the base mission of the Space Force should be.

On the one hand a retired Lt Gen named Wright wants a Space Force analogous to a "brown water" (inshore) navy that would be closely focused on support of warfighters on earth locked in combat against a putative enemy which he does not hesitate to name as China.

On the other hand we have an argument made by a second USAF LT Gen named Kwast who wants there to be a Space Force inspired by the "blue water" maritime concepts of Alfred Thayer Mahan, the author of "The Influence of Sea Power on History."  Kwast sees a need for a Space Force operating way out beyond the orbit of the ISS to influence the economy of the world through the domination of international exploitation of space resources.  In other words the beginning of a true space navy.  Kwast is still on active duty so I suppose he sees himself as a candidate to head the Space Force.

Uniforms?  I suggest black on black.  pl

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44 Responses to The “soul” of the Space Force?

  1. ambrit says:

    On the matter of uniforms; in space itself, visibility is a prime asset. Space is big. That fact by itself defines many of the smaller details. For untethered space walks, something bright and highly visible is best. People, the last I read, still mainly relied on vision to navigate. Thus, being able to see near objects to both meet and avoid contact is optimal. Given how radar is ubiquitous and the basic human tool for longer range object identification, no particular colour of suit, which suit would be analogous to the BDU’s of dirtside troops, would make much difference. When it comes to hand to hand combat, I would expect the methodologies to be similar to those of Marine board and capture exercises. Someone correct me if I am wrong, but in that situation, wouldn’t the colour of your “uniform” be secondary? Perhaps for identification of friend and foe the colour would be of use.
    As for dress uniforms, well, I read a Frenchman once who mwntioned the two types of soldier. Roughly, he divided the class into those who reveled in their braid and froo froo, and those who always wore their ‘working uniforms.’
    As for “brown sky” navy versus “blue sky” navy; hah! Why are we going out there anyway? This admittedly ‘lefty’ chap see’s the “brown sky” navy advocate as being too constrained in his thinking, too short term. The “blue sky” navy advocate has it right. Gain a foothold outside of the Earth Moon system and we will be on our way. All else will fall into place.
    space is big. So big that we cannot really comprehend it. Out there is plenty of room for all the myriad competing earth socio-political systems to run their beta experiments, and survive or disappear on their own merits.
    Space is big.

  2. John Minehan says:

    As with anything of this kind, look to the threat first and continue to adopt to that as it changes. I think both, “Blue Water” and “Brown Water” approaches will be needed.

  3. CK says:

    Space is mostly black. White on white or if the US gets a really woke president in 2024 pink on pink with codpieces for the female commanding officers.
    Butt seriously folks.
    All the promises of science fiction from the earliest 20’s to the early 60’s were betrayed when space was removed from the realm of the citizen and turned into yet another government affair. We could have had: We Also Walk Dogs or The Man Who Sold the Moon, instead we get the fear that The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is the future.
    ‘Tis a sadness.

  4. JP Billen says:

    I’m OK with Kwast’s vision. A military ‘Corps of Discovery’ expediton like Lewis and Clark maybe? Or Zebulon Pike? But we should also focus on inshore. Both are important. Warfighter support should never be given up.
    On the other hand, in deep space perhaps we should be working towards an international federation, like the UFP on the old Star Trek series. If we ever get our heads shaped right, we could send out a ship manned by all the countries of the world on planetary expeditions – or further. Or am I being too optimistic?

  5. turcopolier says:

    The Space Force will be rpresented on earth, in the Pentagon, etc. Symbolism of this kind counts.

  6. Jack says:

    While I don’t yet have an opinion on the “brown” or “blue” visions of the Space Force, I am a big advocate of deep space exploration with robots. I am glad that Musk and Bezos are in the game of commercializing space exploration. And crowdfunding of projects like the Light Sail that TTG wrote about can happen.
    My great-granddaughter just got accepted to Caltech to study aeronautical & mechanical engineering and she’s fascinated with robots for space exploration. Hopefully the proximity to JPL will inspire her.

  7. Fred says:

    SpaceX and Blue Origin and multiple satellite companies don’t look like government agencies to me.

  8. different clue says:

    Science fiction sometimes creates cultural vessels which the developing culture identifies with and finds itself filling with emerging technological reality. For example, didn’t the “flip-phone” era cell-phones look an awful lot like Star Treck Communicators?
    So I wonder whether Star Treck hasn’t already created a possible way to think about a combined warfighting-peacekeeping-exploration presence in Deep Space. That presence sure did seem “Naval” to me. Starships, Starship Captains, Starfleet Admirals . . . perhaps the thought should be of a Star Navy?

  9. JP Billen says:

    Speaking of Star Trek. Nothing wrong with Captain Kirk’s uniforms for the new Space Force, especially his dress black-and-burgundy:
    or the pale gray of later episodes:

  10. pB says:

    the problem here is that we don’t yet have any “blue water” in space, until there is some statigic assets in space, such as a moon colony or asteroid mining the concept of blue water in space does not exist.
    the naval analogy works in the sense that we are sill a tiny undeveloped civilization that can easily build rafts and canoes, and just don’t have the technology or industry or any real reason to build ocean going craft.

  11. CK says:

    Green for the green hills of earth and black for the vasty depths of space.
    I had not given any thought to the ground based symbolism

  12. CK says:

    He who pays the piper gets to determine the playlist.

  13. J says:

    There is the ethereal Space Force, and then there is the brass-tacks reality Space Force. In Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek and subsequent Hollywood space flicks, the BIGGIE had been solved. I’m saying the BIGGIE that can either make a space force work or see a space force literally space float to oblivion. LOGISTICS, it’s as the old saying goes any military marches on its stomach. The same goes for the Space Force. Gene Roddenberry had the logistical nightmare partially solved with his ‘foods and parts – REPLICATORS’. There is today a real-deal REPLICATOR called 3D Printing which our government among others doesn’t want the civilian world getting their hands on it, or better worded keeping their hands off it. The argument today has been regarding 3D printing of pistols and rifles. But to have a ‘Space Force’ both tactical (earth bound) and strategic (LRR, exploration for both military and economic objectives), one has to have the LOGISTICAL problem solved. One might be able to have a limited Space Force confined to our Solar System and the planets and orbitals immediately within purview of the Earth (i.e. Moon, Mars, etc.,), but to have a real operational Space Force would/will require the LOGISTICAL nightmare be solved.
    We can watch the arguments both back and forth between the Civilian Leadership and the Generals and Admirals, and nothing will get done. Or they can move their diatribes out of the way and let the Colonels, Majors, Captains, Lieutenants, and NCOs, and don’t forget most importantly the Flight Surgeons deal with real Space solving and all its problems.
    I could write a thesis about the obstacles that will have to be overcome in order to make a Space Force work in the real world, excuse me , real Space.

  14. pB says:

    dominating low earth orbit is a reasonable goal, that is potentially achievable, controlling all of space is based on overestimating what china will achieve.
    im all for contributing a large portion of our gdp to building the infrastructure needed to dominate space, a space elevator or large rail gun.
    but as long as we are relying on rockets even reusable ones wasting time on solving problems we don’t know about yet it pointless.
    combat in space will offer a huge set of new problems that we have not thought of yet and so being concerned with controlling lanes to mars before we are sure we know how to control the shielded space
    being much younger than you i think that nothing like blue water will be necessary or feasible within my owr my children’s life time.

  15. Terry says:

    While both roles are needed I think the “blue sky” navy will be more strategic. Will the current Outer Space Treaty stay in force? The Outer Space Treaty bans nuclear weapons in space and ownership claims but it is mute on the use of resources and it has a non interference clause. A US space navy could strategically place science stations in key resource areas which would effectively claim them for US use. An example would be the Peaks of Eternal Light on the Moon.
    Given rising commercial activity the treaty is going to need revising, or perhaps we just abandon it and start a space race for territory.
    The Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015 allows private citizens to exploit space resources.
    “However, as to use of peaks of eternal lights on the Moon’s poles, the principle of “first come, first serve” would be applicable: that is, countries that allocate enough resources and finance in exploring and using the PELs before the others would benefit a privileged position in the most precious lunar real estate in the years to come. Moreover, once a country successfully establishes its installations or devices on the PELs, any consequent newcomer who aims at using the same PEL has to take notice of the priority of installations already using the location. Thus, the secondary country may not affect or damage the proper function of the first country’s installed devices or machineries by those of its own. If such circumstances happen, then the affected country may seek to convince the intruder to revise his conduct. ”

  16. Kwast’s vision is a far future vision. It will probably remain the stuff of studies for two decades or more. Space Force will initially consist of the same USSPACECOM that existed 20 years ago with the major addition of NRO being merged into SPACECOM. Its focus will be keeping our stuff in orbit and removing their stuff from orbit. The vast majority of the Force will be DOD civilian and contractor engineers. As a bow to tradition the uniform should include pocket protectors with officers carrying slide rules. This brown water Space Force will be necessary until colonies can exist in space without the need for Earthly resupply. At that point, the blue water Space Force will probably consist of robot ISR and weapons systems.
    This is a subject, I’m willing to wade into this weekend. My oldest son and I are in the Conway, NH and Fryeburg, ME area for a gathering of the clan to celebrate my father’s 90th birthday a little early. I finally proved to some of my sister in-laws that I truly exist and I’m not a hoax foisted on them by my brothers. We also learned my father enlisted in the Marines when he was still 15 with the intent of taking part in the invasion of Japan. They just don’t make em like that anymore, do they?

  17. Jim Ticehurst says:

    Do I need to send The Trailer from the Great Movie The “SPACE COWBOYS”..with Tommy Lee Jones..of MIB..??. For us Old Farts..Thats what I thought the Space Force was all about…I Remember Crusader Rabbit..

  18. Vegetius says:

    I’m thinking its time we bring back those bicorn deals, ala Marcus Garvey.

  19. Andrey Subbotin says:

    So long as we rely on chemical rockets for launch, we cannot do much outside of Earth gravity well. So the brown water version is the only one feasible.

  20. Mightypeon says:

    I think the blue version is better for the following reasons:
    1: Will spawn more positive (as in, making Russia and/or China increase their own deep space capabilities) rather then negative (I think a brown space force could be quite easily countered by a lot of ground based missles) competition which, call me a space hippy if you want to, will be beneficial for all of mankind. Essentially, blue space navies will spawn a new space race, brown space navy is just another arms race.
    2: If I look at non human space based threats (meteors etc.) a blue space force is probably better in that.
    3: Blue space navy will still be an arms race, but one that is partly away from earth.

  21. John Minehan says:

    One thing the Obama Administration got right was allowing for the “privatization” of space by supporting efforts like Virgin Galactic and Musk’s efforts, largely by staying out of the way.

  22. John Minehan says:

    Staying out of the way of that was a good move on the Obama Administration’s part.

  23. John Merryman says:

    I think the real question will be the extent to which this is permeated by the profit motive and we end up with a lot of shiny, expensive, dysfunctional, unfocused, overreaching nonsense.

  24. turcopolier says:

    I thought your parents arrived in the US after WW2.

  25. Barbara Ann says:

    Agreed. Priority has to be ensuring the US wins the race to make extraterrestrial resource exploitation profitable. Tax dollars may be needed on incentives to achieve this goal and military strategy should follow from this imperative. As TTG says, so long as ‘brown water’ superiority is retained it will be possible to blockade any competitor’s off-world colonial expansion long into the future.

  26. CK says:

    So, China or India or FRS launch an exploratory to Mars, strictly scientists and other civilians. Will the USSF brown water version destroy them on their launch pad, or as they exit low earth orbit. It is so easy to imagine blockades and sanctions when the size disparity is large between the sanctioned and the sanctioner. The problem is that both are acts of war; the aggressor has to win every action.
    But on the positive side, their are no known aboriginals on any of the asteroids or nearby planets (Marvin the Martian does not count) so no problem with exploiting the natives.

  27. CK says:

    It is 01:30, almost, on a beautiful late summer afternoon. As I sit here reading the deep thoughts of the committee of correspondence regarding the USSF, I have questions.
    If the brown water model is the appropriate one, then why should it be part of the AIR Force? Would not the USCG be a better and more appropriate model. If instead the blue water force projection model is the appropriate one, would not the USN be more appropriate. And if the appropriate model is both the brown water for close in and the blue water for force projection in an entirely different pair of environments would it not make more sense to have an independent Interplanetary force. Consider the way the USAF has tried to handle the A-10 and succeeded in handling the SR-71, would you really trust them to treat the USSF any better? Space is not the atmosphere without air, one cannot parachute from deep space to the ground, changing directions in orbit is nasty on the body and brain. Consider how difficult it is to pull 9 gravities within the atmosphere now consider how many g’s you would need to withstand in a LEO to do a 45 degree turn.
    In an earlier post on solar sails the Col. pointed out how easy it is to gain speed in space if one is merely patient. Inertia is nowhere near so accommodating.

  28. Philippe Truze says:

    Near Space : a today necessity.
    Far Space : a tomorrow necessity.
    Besides, the first helps the implementation of the second.

  29. No, my grandparents came here before the war. My father learned English from some Lithuanian nuns when he started Catholic grammar school in Connecticut.

  30. turcopolier says:

    so they left Lithuania because it had been annexed by the USSR?

  31. My grandfather got out during the interwar period. The interwar peiod was marked by three wars of independence against the Bolsheviks, the White Russians and the Poles followed shortly afterward by a minitary coup d’état. Four of his brothers that stayed never returned from the gulags. A few others got out after the war.

  32. Barbara Ann says:

    I don’t think we are quite at the stage of destroying one another’s scientific missions yet. I was thinking more of China trying to turn the Moon into Mischief Reef.

  33. The language that’s closest to Indo-Germanic, they say. Also the last European country to be converted. Those huge forests …
    And lost 20% of its population in the twelve years to 2016. What happened?
    Off topic, but I’m reading some bad stuff about what’s happening in the Donbas region. Also still shelling and some small scale fighting.
    I don’t know if you’re still keeping an eye on that, but if so do you know what’s really happening there?

  34. John Minehan says:

    Consider the Outer space Treaty ( as it stands, it seems to create a “tragedy of the commons” scenario: where no one owns anything, no one bothers to maintain anything.
    Yes, it is what is done in Antarctica, but to this point our interactions with it have been limited and we anticipate our interactions with space to be much broader, especially with Low Earth Orbit (at this point).

  35. John Minehan says:

    Nothing better to avoid “shiny, expensive, dysfunctional, unfocused, overreaching nonsense” than having to make money. Nothing clears your head more than having to face a board when your “great idea” loses money for a quarter

  36. John Minehan says:

    Your thought about the civilian contractors made me think about the Field Artillery, which started out (say, around the fall of Constantinople in 1453) as forces of civilian contractors (mercenaries, but very technical ones).
    At least in the British Army, the last civilian parts of the Royal Regiment of Artillery (drivers and teamsters) were not incorporated formally into the Army until of Napoleonic Wars.
    This might be how it goes with space.

  37. John Minehan says:

    The technology does not exist yet, but everyone is trying to develop it.
    The historic analogy is less St. Brendan and more just before Henry the Navigator.

  38. CK says:

    As opposed to the USA turning the moon into Diego Garcia or Gitmo, or India turning the moon in Jammu and Kashmir, or Russia turning the moon into Kaliningrad oblast? Whichever nation gets there first will attempt to impose the power of the high ground. Climbing the gravity well is hard, throwing rocks back down it is easy and the math isn’t even rocket science.
    How do you and TTG suggest using the brown water space force to prevent other nations’ colonial expansions into space? First strike? Contrived “orbital accident”.

  39. turcopolier says:

    What is the meaning of your mention of our relative ages? You think me senile? I remember sitting on the front porch with my father around 1950. the moon shone high. I said I though men would walk on the moon soon. He laughed and said that would not happen in my lifetime. You sound like him.

  40. turcopolier says:

    I think neither concept should dominate, but there is money to be made out there on the moon and in the asteroids and that will speed the “blue water” concept up in achieving dominance.

  41. Barbara Ann says:

    OK, so a better analogy is ships carrying ballistic missiles en route to Cuba. And yes, if persuasion & threats doesn’t work, blow them out of the sky. An act of war? Certainly.

  42. CK says:

    One wonders how the Jupiter MRBMs were positioned at Turkey’s Russian border months before the Cuban missile crisis.
    It reads as though you are suggesting that the only armed vehicles to be allowed into space would be the US Brown or Blue variety. I suppose that might work if all the other nations were just bunches of worthy oriental gentlemen; they aren’t. Five other nations have space vehicle capability right now. That is five other blue or brown space forces to deal with.

  43. CK says:

    Of course, when the USAF does realize that neither variety of space force will require butts in the ejection seats nor ejection seats the whole intellectual exercise will become moot. The TOP GUN model is morté

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