BY EARL H. TILFORD
“Where there is chaos, there also is opportunity.”
Sun Tzu (or was it Chuck Schumer?)
President Donald J. Trump has trumpeted the notion of a United States Space Force (USSF), an idea worthy of consideration. Culture and traditions are institutional essentials. I suggest the USSF adopt nautical traditions, culture and rank structure similar to those of the U.S. Navy rather than the U.S. Army from whose arms Congress ripped the Air Force in 1947 leaving it without the history, traditions, and confidence only a parent service can provide. During the 1960s, the Air Force, like the fantasizing adolescent it was, attempted to morph into the “Aerospace Force” but was sidetracked by attempting “counter-insurgency from 30,000 feet” during the war in Vietnam. Even so, the Air Force may not have made this “trans-institutional” change due to the fact space is as different from the atmosphere as the ocean is from terra firma or men are from women (or used to be). Let me illustrate.
While one can fly more or less straight between Las Vegas and New Orleans, navigating from Canada to Singapore requires a taking a Polar Route shorter than flying straight across the vast Pacific. Let me further illustrate. When Alf left the planet Melmac he could not simply aim his spaceship for our solar system, blast past planets Dave and Pluto to crash into the Tanner family’s garage in suburban Los Angeles. No way! Space is a moving environment. One cannot simply fly to the moon because Mother Earth rotates while orbiting the sun even as the moon orbits the earth. Before the age of machine-powered ships, sailing vessels were at the mercy of prevailing winds; back then un-predictable storms, ocean currents, and tidal forces. Same goes for space. The star we see in the clear night air that is ten million light years away won’t be there when, traveling at the speed of light, USSF Space Forcers arrive in 2,018,000,000. Two options. Option One, continue on at the speed of light to find and explore new worlds. Option Two, turn around to flashback here where it’s 4,036,000,000 and we’re not either. (#Planet of the Apes. “You maniacs! You blew it all up!”)
Let’s consider USSF’s institutional culture. Given the environment, it makes sense to adopt nautical culture. The traditions of the U.S. Navy and most other Western seagoing naval institutions derived from those of Great Britain’s Royal Navy established by King Henry VIII and his daughter, Queen Elizabeth I. Star Trek pointed the way by adopting naval ranks like “admiral” for flag officers, “captain” for senior staff officers, and “lieutenant” for company grade leaders. When Winston Churchill became First Lord of the Admiralty, someone supposedly asked, “What about the traditions of the Royal Navy?” He answered, “Traditions of the Royal Navy? I’ll give you traditions of the Royal Navy: rum, the lash, and buggery.”
Buggery will take care of itself because the U.S. Space Force will be gender inclusive. Rum is self-evident. It facilitates the spacey woman thing and also will not pollute the confined atmosphere as would smoking weed. The lash, however, is problematic because blood floating around the space station will be ickypooh! Laser lashing is the answer. Applying lasers to naked flesh is self-cauterizing if also potentially terrifying, (#Goldfinger. “Do you expect me to talk Goldfinger?” “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.”)
In reality, the Pentagon does not need another bureaucracy-laden military service. Rice bowls will be threatened but as Sun Tzu knew, in seeming chaos there’s opportunity. Here comes innovation. Let’s reunite the Air Force with the mother from whose arms Congress ripped it in 1947, the U.S. Army. While we’re at it, put the U.S. Marine Corps back in the U.S. Navy where seaborne infantry belongs. This not only eliminates bureaucracy, several flag ranks, etc. it also does away with the obnoxious chest thumping about the supposed “eternality of USMCness” while getting rid of an annual November birthday celebration. Furthermore, because Star Fleets will vanquish evil wherever it lurks in the universe, the Gates of Heaven can forever be de-militarized. The U.S. Navy may resist. It’s going to be like welcoming home the proverbial prodigal son, in this case a child that, for more than 200 years, mucked around from Mexico to Libya. But keeping a mother with her child? Democrats and Republicans agree it’s the right thing to do.
Congress, it’s up to you. We can come together right now, over this. The Army gets back to the million-person mark with the mother-child reunion. The Navy gets admirals on Mars. Aliens like Gordon Shumway can vacate California for home.
Innovative thinking making America Great Again!
Self-Educated American Guest Contributor Dr. Earl H. Tilford is a military historian and Fellow for the Middle East & Terrorism with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. He currently lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. A retired Air Force intelligence officer, Dr. Tilford earned his PhD in American and European military history at George Washington University. From 1993 to 2001, he served as Director of Research at the U.S. Army’s Strategic Studies Institute. In 2001, he left Government service for a professorship at Grove City College, where he taught courses in military history, national security, and international and domestic terrorism and counter-terrorism.
Used with the permission of The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College.
The views and opinions expressed herein may, but do not necessarily, reflect the views of Grove City College.