Space Force Holds Orbital Warfare Exercises

It has to be said at the outset that I am an old school veteran. This new entity, the United States Space Force, I will readily admit, tempts me toward satire. Its terminology and its high-tech, outer-space wizardry has an ironic familiarity with the multiple futuristic and entertaining Star Trek series programs of the past. It begs comments like, “To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before,” backed by the theme music and images of the Starship Enterprise. It all seems so…fictional. But…

The reality is that science fiction has become reality in our own times. It is a fact, sadly, that human technological wonder-lust is erasing the once “romantic” views of space that came down to us through the centuries in myths and legends told by every culture on the earth. Humanity has, in the last 60 years of human history, littered the skies with satellites of every description and purpose. They have enhanced world-wide communications, weather prediction, etc. It is also a sad fact that much of human technology, from its most primitive discoveries of various metals and learning how to turn them into useful products to make life better and easier, has also found that technology useful for making new weapons. It has been so since the beginning. As a species with immense intellectual curiosity and skill, we have made remarkable and unbelievable improvements to daily life.

Photo: GetArchive/Defense Visual Information Distribution Service

But here is the kicker. There is a larger and still undealt-with problem. It is clear that though we have advanced exponentially in technological terms, we have not advanced in our moral capacities by a single step. We have not been able, as yet, to get ourselves beyond the dictatorship of our most base, individual, and tribalistic vices that seem, inevitably, to lead us to war. Though, through hard work and focused time, we have developed immense control over nature, we have advanced very little in the ways of self-control, either as individuals or as nations. It is a fact that every weapon that has ever been dreamed of and invented has ultimately been put to use here on earth. And so, now we plan for war in space.

A cursory knowledge of the kinds of weapons that are being used in the war in Ukraine shows us that electronic warfare and the use of satellites for guiding missiles, or for tracking enemy movements, etc. are already here. And it appears inevitable that our earthly wars are now poised to enter the realm of that once immensely mysterious, mythologically rich vastness of space. We are on the event horizon of turning what we used to look up into with immense and humble awe into just another war zone. And so we have The United States Space Force.

Photo: Flickr/Trump White House Archived

The Space Force, which has been developed out of the United States Air Force, is busily developing its identity as a military force and is preparing to meet the potential needs that might be part and parcel of warfighting in space. They have been holding a series of exercises called the Sky Series. The Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM) at Peterson Space Force Base (SFB) in Colorado has undertaken two of these exercises, which they call “Black Skies.” These were focused on electronic warfare and defending U.S. space assets from jamming attacks.

According to Maj. Gen. Shawn Batton, commander of Space Training and Readiness Command, the most recent exercise, dubbed “Red Skies,” is to train Guardians (Space Force personnel), in particular, those assigned to Space Operations Command (SpOC). (Sorry, I can’t help myself: “Guardians and SpOC,” for real?) The mission of the Red Skies exercise, according to Maj. Gen. Bratton, is to “protect and defend operations and to provide national decision authorities with response options to deter and, when necessary, defeat orbital threats.”

Photo: Picryl/The U.S. National Archives

A third iteration of the Skies series is in planning stages now, and it will be called “Blue Skies.” It will focus on cyber warfare. It will be done with SpOC’s Delta 6 unit and will focus on defending U.S. Space systems against cyber attacks.

Well, I’m old, and this stuff is beyond me. Sadly, reality often translates into necessity. The technologies for this kind of warfare already exist, and they are developing exponentially. It is tempting to say, “It is what it is,” but we can only pray that somewhere, sometime, and hopefully in the not too distant future, we will finally begin to grow as rapidly in our capacities for self-control and moral responsibility as we have in our technological prowess.

Here goes my satirical side again: “May the force be with you.” And here is a theological question: Which “Force?”

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