OpEd – US plan to build Space Weapons

OpEd - US plan to build Space Weapons

Issue :-

  • U.S. President Donald Trump in June announced the creation of a “space force” or a sixth branch of the American armed forces. The imperative by America to build space weapons, which is nothing new, goes back to the Cold War, an example being the Strategic Defense Initiative of the Reagan Administration.
  • Mr. Trump said at the time of the announcement, the intention is to see that the U.S. establishes and maintains dominance in space. A Republican-controlled Congress explains the push for the creation of a space corps, the purpose being to deny the Russians and the Chinese advantages in space.
  • The creation of the new force represents an important shift & What advantages it will bring to American war-fighting capabilities are still unclear.

Concerns within the US Administration :-

  • U.S. Air Force is not entirely enthusiastic about this new service, which could take resources away from it and the prestige that comes with being the driver of space military operations.
  • U.S. Defence Secretary, James Mattis, was emphatic as well in a letter to the Congress last October that adding another military arm would only compound the organisational challenges facing the U.S. armed services.
    ♠ First, it could undercut ongoing missions.
    ♠ Second, it could very well increase budgetary allocations in the future.
    ♠ Third, his objections were clear in that a space corps could undermine American efforts in the domain of joint warfare.

A new space force is not merely a brand new service, it potentially increases greater organisational uncertainty within the U.S. military.

What would be the difficulties for Space Forces  ?

  • Physical environment of space is not conducive to the conduct of military operations without incurring serious losses in the form of spacecraft and debris.
  • Despite efforts to make spacecraft more fuel efficient, the energy requirements are enormous.
  • The technical demands of defending assets in space make the possibility of dominance and space as a domain for war-fighting a sort of chimera.

China and Russia’s responses :-

  • China has reiterated its response to the Trump Administration’s announcement with its oft-repeated statement that it opposes the weaponization of space, it knows that it is the prime target of this incipient force.
  • Russia for its part has been shriller in its response, making it clear that it will vigorously take on the U.S.. However, given its lack of the resources for competition, it will in all probability, for tactical reasons, align itself with China.

Implications for India :- American military goals, which are still undefined in space, could still have consequences for India.

  • India is officially committed to PAROS, or the prevention of an arms race in outer space.
  • India has yet to establish a credible space command of its own & its inter-services rivalries will have to be resolved about the command and control.

Way Forward :- India also has to be concerned about Mr. Trump’s move for another reason — China. 

  • New Delhi would do well to come out with an official white paper on space weapons.
  • The government needs to engage with multiple stakeholders directly about the role space weapons will play in India’s grand strategy.

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