February 19, 2019

There Are Much Better Options than a Space Force

Statement by Laura Grego, Union of Concerned Scientists

WASHINGTON (February 19, 2019)—President Trump is expected to sign a directive today for the Pentagon to create an independent space force as a part of the Air Force. Trump originally wanted to establish a space force completely separate from the Air Force, but the directive reportedly only orders the secretary of defense to periodically assess whether a separate department is needed.

Below is a statement by Dr. Laura Grego, a senior scientist in the Union of Concerned Scientists Global Security Program and an expert in satellites and space weapons.

“President Trump has called space a new warfighting domain. Space is important to militaries, that’s true, but it is only a small piece of what happens up there. Eighty percent of the nearly 2,000 satellites are civilian, providing critical communications and economic services for humanity’s well-being. We need to take care of space. If concentrating authority in a space force creates an incentive for nations to build space weapons that increase the likelihood of conflict, it would be a profoundly bad idea.

“There are much better ways to protect satellites. Space security cannot be achieved unilaterally or solely through military means. It will require coordination and cooperation with other spacefaring nations. That means diplomacy.

“There have been a number of international efforts in recent years, ranging from developing guidelines for long-term space sustainability to the European Union proposal for an International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities to the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts project on practical measures to prevent an arms race in outer space. Given that more than 40 percent of satellites are American, the United States should take the lead and help create the conditions for a long-term, peaceful future in space.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with people across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.