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'Spacepower': US Space Force releases foundational doctrine

The official logo of the U.S. Space Force.
The official logo of the U.S. Space Force.
(Image: © United States Space Force)

We now know quite a bit more about the goals and intentions of the United States Space Force.

The new military branch, which President Donald Trump officially established in December 2019, just published its first doctrine, a 41-page Space Force Capstone document called "Spacepower."

"Spacepower" defines that title term as a separate and distinct form of military might for the first time. The document also serves as a foundation on which to build future layers of doctrine as the Space Force evolves and reacts to changing conditions, military officials said. 

Related: What is the Space Force?

"This publication answers why spacepower is vital for our nation, how military spacepower is employed, who military space forces are, and what military space forces value," Gen. Jay Raymond, the Space Force's chief of space operations, wrote in the foreword to "Spacepower," which was published online today (Aug. 10). You can read the full Space Force Capstone document here.

"In short, this capstone document is the foundation of our professional body of knowledge as we forge an independent military service committed to space operations," Raymond wrote. 

"Spacepower" lays out the critical importance of the final frontier, which American military officials have long regarded as the ultimate high ground.

"Strength and security in space enables freedom of action in other warfighting domains while contributing to international security and stability," the document states, in a section called "Military Spacepower: Guiding Principles." 

"The U.S. must adapt its national security space organizations, doctrine and capabilities to deter and defeat aggression and protect national interests in space," the doctrine reads.

Related: The most dangerous space weapons concepts ever

"Spacepower" also stresses that the Space Force will prioritize flexibility and adaptability in the face of a rapidly changing threat environment.

"As a lean, mission-focused, digital service, the United States Space Force values organizational agility, innovation and boldness. Elevating these traits starts with empowering small teams and prizing measured risk-taking as opportunities to rapidly learn and adapt," the report states, in that same "Guiding Principles" section.

The Space Force is the first new U.S. military branch since the Air Force was established in 1947. The Space Force is officially part of the Air Force, just as the U.S. Marine Corps is part of the Department of the Navy.

The Space Force has a big, important and challenging job ahead of it. Over the past few years, U.S. military officials have repeatedly stressed that the nation's long-held dominance of the final frontier is being seriously challenged, chiefly by China and Russia. ("Spacepower" does not mention those two countries by name, discussing principles and priorities in a general sense.)

The work to write "Spacepower" began in August 2019, before the Space Force was officially born. In February, the Space Force hosted a summit to lay out the framework for the doctrine.

"During the summit, representatives from all military services and exchange officers from the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia offered additional recommendations on the scope and key ideas in the proposed publication," Space Force officials said in a statement today. "Given the emerging state of spacepower, this doctrine will inevitably evolve over time as it is applied, evaluated, and refined."

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook. 

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  • steve_foston
    The maxim is "to preserve peace you must prepare for war" but, really, does our species not learn anything from the sad turmoil that we have inflicted upon the Earth - are we really going to carry this on into space, we should be ashamed of ourselves! Despite the similarity with the cap badge this isn't 'starfleet'.
    Reply
  • Geomartian
    The word supremacy comes up a lot.

    Entrepreneurs are also mentioned a lot.

    The 600 battle droids currently orbiting Earth are not mentioned.

    The Attack-By-Date also seems to have expired for this plan.
    Reply
  • Lovethrust
    steve_foston said:
    The maxim is "to preserve peace you must prepare for war" but, really, does our species not learn anything from the sad turmoil that we have inflicted upon the Earth - are we really going to carry this on into space, we should be ashamed of ourselves! Despite the similarity with the cap badge this isn't 'starfleet'.
    Well it’s not our call...
    Reply
  • Geomartian
    Lovethrust said:
    Well it’s not our call...

    I have studied Space Warfare from the viewpoint of the technologically inferior space combatant. Space warfare is beautifully asymmetric and messy.

    Some people never seem to learn their lessons about claiming territory that doesn’t belong to them.

    The badge will look good on my beret.
    Reply
  • Geomartian
    World War 1 was a gimmick war. The English carefully maneuver the Germans into a weakened political position before the war. WW I didn’t just happen it was planned. The English really hate a fair competition. The English couldn’t beat the economic power of the Germans but the English could crank up their propaganda machine.

    The gimmick part of the English strategy was the naval blockade that would have prevented the Germans from getting saltpeter (fixed nitrogen for gunpowder and munitions) and other critical war supplies. The British thought they had an unassailable advantage and so they started the war.

    The Germans developed the Haber Process for fixing nitrogen and the “gimmick” which would win the British the war became irrelevant.

    WW 3 looks like another gimmick war. The Americans are falling behind their competitors in critical factors like overall manufacturing capacity, military research and development times, and bloated, costly, and unsuitable weapons systems. In a standard capitalist driven war (meat grinder) the costs to the Oligarchs would vastly outweigh the gains. Oligarchs don’t start wars that they might lose.

    Except the Empire thinks they have a gimmick (technological terror?) up their sleeve that will assure them of Space Supremacy. This gimmick would theoretically make the empire’s forces unbeatable. War is fought on the Earth and not in space. You can have great communications and intelligence but that does not automatically give you superiority in all other aspects of warfare. You can still be outnumbered and strategically out maneuvered.

    The Empire would use the American Space Force and their new technological breakthrough (gimmick) to start WW 3. The Oligarchs would turn America into a wasteland before they would risk giving up their power.
    Reply
  • COLGeek
    Geomartian said:
    World War 1 was a gimmick war. The English carefully maneuver the Germans into a weakened political position before the war. WW I didn’t just happen it was planned. The English really hate a fair competition. The English couldn’t beat the economic power of the Germans but the English could crank up their propaganda machine.

    The gimmick part of the English strategy was the naval blockade that would have prevented the Germans from getting saltpeter (fixed nitrogen for gunpowder and munitions) and other critical war supplies. The British thought they had an unassailable advantage and so they started the war.

    The Germans developed the Haber Process for fixing nitrogen and the “gimmick” which would win the British the war became irrelevant.

    WW 3 looks like another gimmick war. The Americans are falling behind their competitors in critical factors like overall manufacturing capacity, military research and development times, and bloated, costly, and unsuitable weapons systems. In a standard capitalist driven war (meat grinder) the costs to the Oligarchs would vastly outweigh the gains. Oligarchs don’t start wars that they might lose.

    Except the Empire thinks they have a gimmick (technological terror?) up their sleeve that will assure them of Space Supremacy. This gimmick would theoretically make the empire’s forces unbeatable. War is fought on the Earth and not in space. You can have great communications and intelligence but that does not automatically give you superiority in all other aspects of warfare. You can still be outnumbered and strategically out maneuvered.

    The Empire would use the American Space Force and their new technological breakthrough (gimmick) to start WW 3. The Oligarchs would turn America into a wasteland before they would risk giving up their power.
    ...let us hope not. Several massive leaps in logic and suppositions here.
    Reply