Kosal: Space Force Unlikely to Improve U.S. Position in Space

Society and Culture

Society and Culture

Kosal: Space Force Unlikely to Improve U.S. Position in Space

August 10, 2018
• Atlanta, GA

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Margaret Kosal

By Michael Pearson

Creating a sixth branch of the United States military to oversee space defense — a Space Force —could spur technological innovation, but could just as likely cause disruption among organizations tasked with defending U.S. military and commercial interests in orbit, according to Margaret E. Kosal, an associate professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

“Do we need to recognize the value of space as a domain crucial to U.S. national security and our economy? Absolutely,” said Kosal, a former advisor for science and technology in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. “Do we need to better fund basic and applied research? Absolutely. Do we need to have more robust thinking about space as a military and commercial domain? Absolutely? Is a Space Force the best, or second-, or third-best way to do that? No.”

Vice President Mike Pence announced Aug. 9, 2018 that the United States would seek to establish a U.S. Space Force as a separate branch of the military by 2020. President Donald Trump publicly proposed such a branch in June.

Kosal, an expert in military technology, said it is unclear what a Space Force would do beyond the existing roles handled by other military organizations. She said it also be a destabilizing influence internationally, inducing other nations, such as China and Russia, to stand up their own versions of a military space force.

“That may drive a militarization of space,” she said.

One possible benefit of such a service branch, she said, might be greater emphasis on basic and applied research that could help drive new discoveries.

But, she said, a better way to do that would be to direct more money to …

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