Saturday, July 1, 2017

House Panel Votes to Create the US Space Corps

I'm not even close to joking about this.

They actually did it and no one was more surprised they did it than they are.

Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio) said he only learned about the proposal last week, when it first came before the subcommittee on strategic forces.

“I chastised my staff and said, ‘How could I not know that this was happening?’ They said, ‘Well, they had a meeting about it and you missed it,’” Turner said. “A meeting is certainly not enough. Maybe we do need a space corps, but I think this bears more than just discussions in a subcommittee. We have not had Secretary Mattis come before us and tell us what this means. We have not heard from the secretary of the Air Force. There’s a whole lot of work we need to do before we go as far as creating a new service branch.”

Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), a retired Air Force colonel, was similarly surprised by the Space Corps proposal. She said she had not been aware of it until it appeared in the bill the full committee debated on Wednesday.

“This is honestly the first time I’ve heard about a major reorganization to our Air Force,” she said Wednesday evening. “This is sort of a shocking way to hear about a very major reorganization to our military, and I think it deserves at least a couple hearings and discussions on the matter at the full committee level.”

Sadly they Air Force has stolen a march on the Navy and got their abortion pushed through first. It will be impossible to get a better version created later.

I think America does need a dedicated Space Command but tragically it's going to be modeled on the service whose only demonstrated victories since WWII have involved assaults on Capital Hill.

The Navy and obviously a better choice for a service whose model is going to be naval in character.  This isn't going to be three man crews up in the air for less than 24 hours.  The deployment time is going to be into the weeks.  I don't claim to be able to project the number of men involved in these crews but it will eventually be quite a bit more than three.

The Air Force has severe institutional problems as a service that it hasn't come close to addressing.  At the moment it has two real jobs, airborne transport and close air support. The Air Force hates doing both of these.

The Air Force started out with a bad idea.  That idea was an unproven hypothesis that if you dropped enough bombs on an enemy they would surrender eventually.  

The guys who got came up with this one were never bombed for days on end, they were pilots and theorists with no data to back up their ideas.  You only had  to crack a history book and you'd find out that one is bullshit. 

People get used to getting bombed.  The siege of Vicksburg is replete with stories of towns folk who got used to the Union artillery barges.  In fact they were so used to nightly bombardments that they had trouble sleeping at night when the siege ended.  

Plenty of examples of that during WWII as well but I can't blame them for not having that information on hand.  I can blame them for forming national strategies around unproven technologies and tactics.  The B-17 was supposed to be a perfect war machine.   Large formations of them would be completely invulnerable to fighter attack due to their bristling anti-aircraft armament.  They were also supposed to be flying too high to be vulnerable to ground based anti-air fire as well.  They would sweep surface navies from the waves and leave enemies begging to surrender in less than a month.

Yeah, not so much.  The high level B-17 flights never sunk so much as a patrol boat.  War production was effected but not so much that it rendered the enemy out of combat.  B-17s proved quite vulnerable to fighters. after all.

The Air Force's reaction?  We need better bombers and bigger bombs.  They got them but thank God never got a chance to use them.  Not that there weren't' a few generals that wished that that could have happened.

The ghost of strategic bombing theory was still very much in play even as late as the start of Desert Storm.  Instant Thunder was the only bombing plan on the table at the start of the war, so that was what we went with.  Even against the completely hapless and utterly incompetent Iraqi Army, strategic bombing was a failure.

The Bomber Club was firmly in the driver seat when the Air Force was split off.

This is the mindset that established the institutional inertia of the US Air Force. 

The stick jocks aren't a major improvement over the bomber pilots.  All they want to do is shoot down enemy planes.  The problem being that just doesn't happen.  Nobody wants to risk their expensive jets in a dog fight.

Ever since the close of the Cold War the Air Force has been groping blindly for a mission.  Any mission... Except the one they actually have.  The fly boys hate close air-support.  Hate it with an unreasoning passion.  They have been trying to get rid of the A-10 from the day they first showed up forty years ago.  They've been trying to get rid of the Army's helicopters from the day they first went into service and planned to replace them with nothing.

Instead of being allowed to create a new screwed up service the Air Force should be rolled back into the Army Air Corps and all of it's pilots made Limited Duty Officers.

Anti-Air Force rant concluded.

The Navy on the other hand is perfectly natural choice to create a Space Corps.  The officers are trained first as engineers, not as pilots.  The mindset and problem solving skills are completely different and quite preferable to the challenges of long term deployment in a hostile environment. 

Not that the Navy wouldn't have it's own problems.  The Carrier Club would try to take over the whole service because once again, "Hey space means flying.  That is our thing!" 

Yes, it's flying.  But it is flying for months on end in an enclosed tube without hope of fresh air until the mission is over.  The Silent Service is clearly the better choice here.  Submariners already have this lifestyle down cold.

Then there is the matter of mission continuity.  When an aircraft takes damage it's "abort mission. We are landing."  If a sub is damaged at sea, you try to carry on as best you can unless the damage makes it impossible to continue. 

Yes, it was only a panel meeting but this is the kind of thing with decades long consequences.  

This is the snowball effect.  

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