1-15 July 2018
1. Space Force Proposal and International Reaction
On Monday, June 18th, President Donald Trump signed a directive to the United States Department of Defense to begin the creation of a new military branch. The proposed branch, the United States Space Force, would cover any and all operations which take place outside the Earth’s atmosphere. Trump was quoted to say that, “Our destiny beyond the Earth is not only a matter of national identity but a matter of national security.” The proposal and creation of a Space Force were perhaps inevitable, the idea of such started circulating around the 1960s, yet still raises concern for international relations and United States foreign policy. (Wenz)
The development of a military branch revolving around operations in space comes from a realist perspective in international affairs. Along with claiming that the directorate was a matter of “national security,” the Trump administration has made comments about the rationalization for a Space Force, making sure to note that to “explore new horizons and to tame new frontiers” was a part of the “American character.” (Lewin) The militarization of space, either defensive or offensive, has been an issue looming from the Cold War era and the Space Race. Whoever gets ahead of the game in weaponizing satellites will maintain a significant control both in outer space and on earth. With weapons that can fire from space to earth and no current way to truly defend against them, any given nation can control or be controlled. The ability to destroy satellites was displayed in China’s 2007 destruction of their own weather satellite, the Feng Yun 1C, with a “kinetic kill vehicle.” (Goswami)
The development and even the proposal, of a Space Force, does come with implications. Victor Bondarev, head of the Russian Parliament’s Upper House Committee on Defense and Security, claimed that the “Militarization of outer space is the path to disaster.” (Rempfer) This is an ironic statement coming from Russia, seeing as they have maintained their own space oriented military branch since the creation of the Russian Space Forces in August of 1992. (Space Forces.) At this point, China has not released any statements on the proposal. This does not mean that the Chinese reaction should be disregarded. Both Russia and China reactions are based on realism, viewing any movement to gain or maintain control by the United States as threatening to their expansionist foreign policy goals. These are not new stances, Russia and China have continually sought to be a dominant force in international politics.
It is unlikely that Russia or China will react with overt hostility, destroying United States assets in outer space. Instead, both countries will continue to develop and start deploying their own “defensive” space assets. This is only a possible outcome, and one of many, which can be controlled based on how the Trump administration approaches their new found power. The situation of militarization in outer space is delicate, and currently, the United States leads the charge – the best possible scenario for the time being.
2. National Security Implications from the Travel Ban
The United States Supreme Court has upheld the Administration’s Travel Ban, also known as Executive Order 13769, in a 5-4 vote in which the people of several countries will not be allowed to enter into the United States for 90 days. These countries include Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, North Korea and Venezuela. Since the President signed the executive order in January of 2017 people, have been protesting the travel ban, as a Muslim ban, and have continued to do so. Though, if this were a genuine Muslim ban, at the very least, the administration would have included more of the 51 majority Muslim nations. Instead, there are just five. Also, there are two countries included that are not majority Muslim whatsoever, North Korea who is atheist and Venezuela who is approximately 73% Catholic, 17% Protestant and just 0.3% Muslim. (National Review, Murdock). Executive Order 13769 is not a Muslim ban, nor is it anti-Islam. It is a decision that keeps the United States’ National Security as a priority. “These travel restrictions have nothing to do with Islam and everything to do with shielding the United States from the citizens of terrorist-infested countries that cannot or will not help U.S. officials vet their own nationals who want to enter America.” (Murdock). The travel ban is simply in place to ensure the safety of United States citizens from people that share an anti-Western ideology, that is all.
Moving forward, the travel ban will more than likely lose steam with the public. The ban is also motivation for the countries on the other end to strengthen their own National Security so they can be taken off of that list. Iraq and Chad are prime examples of this. Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “This intense review over the past month identified multiple security measures that the State Department and the government of Iraq will be implementing to achieve our shared objective of preventing those with criminal or terroristic intent from reaching the United States.” (Tillerson). Because Iraq was willing to cooperate, the U.S. was willing to take them off of the travel ban. In addition to that, in April the Republic of Chad had improved security measures, as in, identity management and information sharing and with doing so, they too were lifted from the ban. Unfortunately unlike Iraq and Chad did, the countries that remain are less likely to comply, and as long as that continues they will continue to be included in the travel ban.
3. US Army Updates Infantry Basic Training
On June 26 the Army announced there will be an increase in Infantry OSUT (One Station Unit Training) from the previous 14 weeks to 21 total weeks. The Army is doing this to “bolster Soldier lethality” (Army.mil, Suits). OSUT has been used by most of the Army’s combat MOSs (Military Occupational Specialty) for many years, to include the infantry.
It takes Basic Combat Training (BCT) and Advanced Individual Training (AIT) and combines them into one rigorous course to better ensure discipline and readiness in a soldier. Under the new pilot program, which is set to launch later in July the course is extended to 21 weeks, allowing for more time on certain topics for higher proficiency. Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey said, “We have packed a lot into basic training – we have – and we need to extend it.” (SMA Dailey). The increase would expand on more weapons training and have longer field training exercises, as well as more physical training, drill, ceremony, and combative (SMA Dailey).
Once the pilot program is completely underway and the first few cycles of soldiers have graduated, there will be an initial increase in soldier preparedness, which will allow for the units these soldiers are going to less time to try to catch them up on everything they are lacking, thus increasing unit readiness. “What we want, ultimately, is we want any soldier who graduates from OSUT, that they can immediately go and join any formation that they need to go to…” (Brigadier General Christopher Donahue).
“Army to Extend Infantry OSUT to Bolster Soldier Lethality.” Www.army.mil, The United States Army, www.army.mil/article/203228/army_to_extend_infantry_osut_to_bolster_soldier_lethality
Murdock, Deroy. “The Left’s Response to SCOTUS Travel-Ban Ruling Is Typically Baseless.” National Review, National Review, 30 June 2018, www.nationalreview.com/2018/06/travel-ban-ruling-left-hysterical-response-uninformed/
Myers, Meghann. “Will Longer Basic Training Make Stronger Infantrymen? The Army Is Adding 8 Weeks to OSUT to Find Out.” Army Times, Army Times, 26 June 2018, www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2018/06/26/will-longer-basic-training-make-stronger-infantrymen-the-army-is-adding-8-weeks-to-osut-to-find-out/
Schallhorn, Kaitlyn. “Trump Travel Ban: Timeline of a Legal Journey.” Fox News, FOX News Network, 26 June 2018, www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/06/26/trump-travel-ban-timeline-legal-journey.html
“Trump Travel Ban: What Does This Ruling Mean?” BBC News, BBC, 26 June 2018, www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39044403
Wenz, John. “The Proposed Space Force Isn’t the First Time the United States Has Tried to Militarize Space.” Popular Science, Popular Science, 20 June 2018, www.popsci.com/air-force-space-force
Lewin, Sarah. “Trump Orders Space Force for ‘American Dominance,’ Signs Space-Traffic Policy.” Space.com, Space.com, 18 June 2018, www.space.com/40921-trump-space-traffic-policy-american-leadership.html
Goswami, Namrata. “The US ‘Space Force’ and Its Implications.” The Diplomat, The Diplomat, 22 June 2018, thediplomat.com/2018/06/the-us-space-force-and-its-implications/
Rempfer, Kyle. “Russia Warns of a ‘Tough Response’ to Creation of US Space Force.” Air Force
Times, Air Force Times, 22 June 2018, www.airforcetimes.com/flashpoints/2018/06/21/russia-warns-of-a-tough-response-to-creation-of-us-space-force/
“VKS.” Polybius at The Clickto Network, Space Policy Project: Space World Guide, web.archive.org/web/20111123131940/http://www.fas.org/spp/guide/russia/agency/vks.htm
“Space Forces.” Russian Defence Minister Had an Appointment with Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the People’s Republic of China : Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, http://eng.mil.ru/en/structure/forces/cosmic/history.htm