Tuesday, October 27, 2020
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First Space Force deployment not so far, far away


Troops take the oath in Qatar earlier this monthImage copyright
US Air Force handout

With one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind, US Space Force troops have now boldly gone where many American soldiers have gone before.

The Middle East.

Earlier this month, 20 US troops were sworn in as Space Force recruits at the Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, becoming the newest US military branch’s first foreign deployed troops.

It comes amid a Space Force recruiting drive and criticism that it is a vanity project for President Donald Trump.

“This group is making history,” US Air Force Col Todd Benson, director of Space Forces for US Air Forces Central Command, told the squadron of airmen as they formally switched military branches in a 1 September ceremony.

“They are the first members of the United States Space Force to be deployed in support of combat operations,” he added, according to a Space Force press release.

US troops are of course not new to the Middle East, but it was actually where the first “space war” was ever fought, historians say. It was in the 1991 Desert Storm operation that US troops first used satellite based GPS while pushing Iraqi troops out of Kuwait.

The new military service, overseen by the US Air Force, has said they do not not intend to immediately put troops into orbit.

Rather, its mission is to protect US assets such as the hundreds of satellites used for communication and surveillance.

US Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett said the Space Force would comprise about 16,000 air force and civilian personnel.

The Trump administration allocated $40m (£34m) to fund the force in its first year.

Space Force has been occasionally mocked since President Trump created it as the first US military branch since the Air Force was added in 1947.

Netflix has a comedy series of the same name, and jokes have been made about everything from the choice of not-very-intergalactic appearing woodland camouflage uniforms to their use of an insignia that bears a resemblance to the Star Trek logo.

The force has defended its use of camouflage uniforms, saying it was “utilising current Army/Air Force uniforms” and “saving costs of designing/producing a new one” in doing so.

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