In military operations, much of what happens "down here" depends on what is "up there."
Intelligence gathering, communication, navigation, guidance, for all of these tasks and more, our nation's armed forces are wholly dependent on satellites. While all branches of service have people who specialize in satellites, the majority of the management of these assets is done by the Air Force's Space Command. Now, there is a movement in both private and public sectors to establish a separate branch of the military devoted solely to space operations. Such a move would, in theory, free the Air Force up to handle other tasks.
Plainly I remember it was in the midst of April 2001 when I saw good ol' Donald Rumsfield, then the Secretary of Defense, giving a press conference at the Pentagon that was being covered by C-SPAN. Yes, I've been known to watch C-SPAN and yes I know, "geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!" Regardless, Rumsfield even said back then that the US Air Force was going to be moving towards being an Air and Space Force. Then 9/11 showed up and I heard nothing much more on the matter.
Flash forward to today. There's actually a proposal being floated around for a U.S. Space Guard. The duties of this new service would be to monitor the amount of objects in orbit...a task that grows more daunting by the day...and if need be to eliminate the space junk. Those are just a few of the proposed tasks. Leaves a lot of room, however, for "other duties as assigned."
It's a fact that space is on its way to being weaponized (for a list of space weapons past, present, and future, click here.) Military space shuttles have already been tested, there have long been plans for satellites that could direct high-energy EMP pulses to selected targets, and there's the "rods from God" project wherein tungsten rods are dropped from orbit to smack into targets on Earth. That's right, mere metal rods...turned into deadly weapons via kinetic energy. Then there's the entire wing of research, development, and now deployment of a land-based, sea-based, air-based, and space-based missile defense shield. All of this via the blank check that the Department of Defense enjoys.
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