At one time, not long ago, there was a U.S. Space Command headquartered at Peterson AFB in Colorado. This was a unified combatant command. I was never aware of their full mission, although the CINCUSSPACECOM was also the CINCNORAD and commander of the Air Force Space Command. As a unified combatant command, SPACECOM would be allocated forces as needed to accomplish its mission. I only knew of one such unit allocated to SPACECOM, Joint Task Force - Computer Network Defense (JTF-CND). It was a great and productive relationship. However, it did not last. In 2002, Rumsfeld deactivated SPACECOM to make room for NORTHCOM as a new unified combatant command. The SPACECOM missions were assumed by STRATCOM. I think the idea of reactivating SPACECOM as a unified combatant command is worth a look.
What missions must a newly established U.S. Space Force or newly reactivated SPACECOM undertake? I contend that either entity must defend our current and future space-based assets from destruction or degradation. At the same time we must be prepared to destroy or degrade the space-based assets of potential enemies. Following from these missions, we must develop and maintain a capability to rapidly replace our assets that are destroyed or degraded. To accomplish these missions, we must have an agile R&D and procurement structure that works hand-in-hand with our commercial space industries.
What kind of forces are needed to accomplish these missions? Surely it would require a small number of people extraordinarily accomplished in science and engineering of limited usefulness in terrestrial warfare as Colonel Lang points out. These specialist who are most at home with their heads in the stars would naturally guide the R&D and procurement functions. I feel at least some of them are also required to plan and execute the offensive and defensive missions of such a space force. But along with these heads in the stars types, the missions will rely on more conventionally oriented personnel. The Russians recently tested the PL-19 Nudol, a mobile, track-mounted anti-satellite weapon (ASAT). In 2008 we destroyed one our malfunctioning satellites with a ship-launched Standard Missile 3 ABM. This was most likely done in response to a Chinese demonstration of a similar ASAT capability. The range of ASAT weapons and weapons platforms include air, land and sea launchers. Those deploying, maintaining and operating these systems are soldiers, sailors and airmen. In addition to these systems, we and our adversaries may develop space-based killer satellite systems. Perhaps we may someday have manned space-based killer satellite systems. That will be the closest thing to Heinlein’s Starship Troopers we would have.
I have seen proposals for the Air Force to develop a Space Force along the same lines of the Navy’s Marine Corps. This would be the fifth US Armed Service that Colonel Lang mentioned. Given the wide array of systems and personnel needed to successfully fulfill our space-based national defense strategy, I think a reactivated USSPACECOM would better meet our needs. It would begin the process of coordinating with STRATCOM, NRO and other existing agencies to juggle the missions and functions of a space-based national defense strategy. Perhaps it would establish a national training center for space to put the myriad kinds of personnel needed to fulfill our strategy into the proper space-based mindset. As we expand our horizon beyond Earth orbit, we may need the Space Force. Until then, a USSPACECOM will suit the purpose.
I see your point but doubt that you could really protect space assets from the manned aircraft dominated USAF without a separate service. pl