16 thoughts on “A U.S. Space Force”

  1. Whatever they decide, independent force or division of the Air Force, the Space Force needs to use the Navy rank nomenclature. Because, as Stephen Green pointed out at Instapundit, “Colonel James T. Kirk” is just wrong.

  2. Maybe the Air Force would like satellite protection to be someone else’s job. Many articles about various countries developing weapons to take out US military space assets.

  3. A terrific piece. I hope he succeeds in persuading Congress that actual defense has to be put above pork and the failing status quo.

  4. The Space Doomsday Machine

    The Ambassador: If you take say 100 missiles or so of the ICBM class and add a small kick stage to them, each containing 6 or so independent satellite dispensers and launch them into pro and retro-grade orbits both equatorial and polar and have the dispensers act as canisters containing 1000s of hardened steel ball bearings to be dispersed by a gas explosion at its base. It will create a “Doomsday Shroud”. A cloud of lethal projectiles orbiting the Earth at altitudes from 100 to 300 miles. Thus denying the enemy or anyone else for that matter access to LEO and space itself for at least 99 years!

    The President: But that’s insane. Why would you do such a thing?

    The Ambassador: Some of us fought against it. But all the while our people were constantly grumbling about free healthcare and college education. Our doomsday scheme only cost us only a fraction of what we would otherwise spend on a Space Force!

  5. RAF-like ranks are also a possibility. Those went through several quick iterations in WW1, before settling on RN-like ranks (over Navy brass opposition), but with function adjectives attached to each rank, because air forces have bases and formations, not capital ships. Flying Officer, Flight Lieutenant (leftenant!), Wing Commander, Group Captain, Air Marshall…

    On the other hand, Tom Corbett’s Solar Guard had Army ranks, but without general officers. Major Lou Connel is said to have refused promotion so he could stay on active duty in the field. The nuclear spaceships in the stories (and crudely done TV show) are described as being 300 feet tall, and looking a lot like Starship, probably because Tom’s Polaris, like the Polaris III from The Space Explorers are all derived from the ship in the 1937 animated feature “Weltraumschiff 1 Startet.”

    With luck, we’ll have space going capital ships in the 21st century, starting with Starship, and winding up with super-sized NautilusX designs ranging the solar system.

  6. The could blaze a whole new trail.

    O-1 2nd Stage
    O-2 1st Stage
    O-3 Capsule
    O-4 Meteor
    O-6 Planetoid
    O-7 Planet
    O-8 Gas Giant
    O-9 Brown Dwarf
    O-10 Red Giant
    O-11 Super Massive Black Hole

    Warrant officers would be Strap-ons, and the general staff would be Oort officers and star clusters, with of course lots of enlisted asteroids hovering about.

  7. I don’t know about warrants being called strap-ons, but I’ve met sergeants would revel in it!

    Maybe it would be better to return to the Napoleonic Era Royal Navy ranks? Start out as an astronaut-recruit, then rise through the ranks as you train and work in various specialties, eventually earning a warrant (sailing master and surgeon were warrant officers). If you were working toward command, then your warrant would be as a midshipman. When you passed for lieutenant, you’d rise through grades of lieutenant, eventually becoming a commander when you had an actual command, then captain when you had command of a capital ship. This has the advantage of not tying rank to college education, but to fundamental competence.

    I never liked the post-captain system (where you became an admiral when you had suffient seniority). It kind of reminds me how things work at IBM. It’s supposed to avoid favoritism, but it has lots of drawbacks. At this juncture, I don’t think a Space Force needs more than one admiral. Maybe when there are fleets on separate planets, they’d each be commanded by an admiral, with the whole commanded by the Sky Marshal of the Universe…

    1. Just as a silly footnote: when I last worked at IBM, my official job title was “X-Series Preload Infrastructure Architect.” I can still feel mu eyes roll whenever I think about it…

      1. Well, TRW, the Air Force, NASA, and probably some other big players rethought engineering teams back in the early days of the missile programs when conventional management structures weren’t up to the task of advanced missile development.

        They innovated and created a dual-management system where, say, an electrical controls engineer answered to one chain of control engineers, but was assigned (or loaned) to project teams for things like Stage 2 guidance and separation. When that work was done he might get assigned to some other controls problem with some other team, but was reporting to multiple management chains the whole time.

        Navy tasks were similar, with various separate domains that had to be integrated for a ship to function: Navigation, propulsion, gunnery, communications, meteorology, etc. Each was its own specialty, from aboard ship to all the way back to various commands responsible for development, design, and implementation of the various specialized technologies.

        I think the requirements of Space Command might differ from the Navy in that on a ship, the captain will have somewhat mastered all the sub-specialties, or at least be highly knowledgeable of them, and there will be lots of crew cross training (especially on subs) because of the potential for casualties.

        But until we have large crewed space ships, Space Command will be more like the onshore Navy. A shore support person could spend their whole life in ordnance production and end up in charge of new gun development, without having any idea which way north is, and a propulsion engineer doesn’t even car if the ship uses guns, missiles, or boarding axes.

        Space dominance seems to naturally have a lot of such pigeonholes, where the orbital mechanics folks don’t even need to know that the launch, recon, or communications folks do for a living, and vice versa.

        But I’m not sure how that would impact a command structure, if at all.

        1. “They innovated and created a dual-management system where, say, an electrical controls engineer answered to one chain of control engineers, but was assigned (or loaned) to project teams for things like Stage 2 guidance and separation. When that work was done he might get assigned to some other controls problem with some other team, but was reporting to multiple management chains the whole time.”

          Nothing innovative about that..it’s called the “Matrix System” where you’d have a pool of each type of specialty and members of the pool got assigned to whatever project needed them.

          Failed miserably….even Neo was repulsed by it.

          1. “Matrix management can be appropriate for certain things, but not a focused project.”

            Or for an organization that has several focused projects which is where I saw it implemented (Hamilton Standard). We quickly dumped it.

  8. A guy once had a couple of stories in Analog about Chris Columbus (Admiral of the Ocean Sea) and his struggles with the Leon and Castile National Office of Sea Exploration to equip his fleet with the competing demands of various parts of the matrix management organisation, including diversity quotas etc and the DODDERERs (Deputy Over Directors Doing Extended Research on Early Retirement). Written as a series of letters between Chris and the various parts of the organisation.
    The fleet finally sails but sinks in a storm just over the horizon from port of departure and the second story takes it up for the enquiry and subsequent scapegoating of Chris.
    That was written in the early 1980s and seemed hilarious at the time but seems sadly prophetic now.

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