So many people found this story and passed it along to me that I knew something was going on. But there's a story even here, if you'll permit me to talk about it a bit before we move along to the high octane speculations of the day.
As I said, so many people saw this story and passed it along, that I initially, when I saw the headlines, was inclined to dismiss it, even though there were so many people passing along various versions of it. But I had covered this story in previous blogs, particularly when the Pentagram announced that it needed a space force, and had actually created a command structure. And every now and then we hear further developments of that story. Thus, and quite frankly, when I saw my email inbox being filled with versions of this story, I didn't think much of it. But then someone else sent along the same story, and when that happened, I took notice. That someone was this website's developer/tech/Dialogues host. Now, I knew that something in the story had caught his eye enough to make him send the story and draw my attention to it, so I went back and had another look.
Here's the story:
Now, in all honesty, I don't know what caught our developer's eye. He didn't tell me. But I can tell you what caught mine. It was this:
But that didn’t stop President Trump for advocating for a “Space Force” today. “My new national strategy for space recognizes that space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air, and sea,” Trump said at the rally. “We may even have a ‘Space Force’ — develop another one. Space Force. We have the Air Force; we’ll have the Space Force.”
OK. We probably all get the idea that space is a "war fighting domain." Any full scale war between the US and any major power opponents will likely begin with space operations, with strikes against the opposing side's satellites and space-based systems. Mr. Trump's on-again off-again attitude to "space forces" is no surprise; the topic itself has flip-flopped more than a fish out of water through several administrations, but the matter always seems to come down to "we need it," to the simple military reality that space is the new ocean, and with commercial ventures in space being planned, sooner or later, for reasons we can all understand, that will mean the militarization and weaponization of space.
But that's not what caught my eye either. What caught my eye was the peculiar nature of Mr. Trump's remarks: “We may even have a ‘Space Force’ — develop another one. Space Force. We have the Air Force; we’ll have the Space Force.” Now, I'm the first to admit, when it comes to remarks of Presidents, who tend to speak off the cuff as does Mr. Trump, that it's always a hazardous affair to over-parse remarks. I know full well, having spoken in public for many years, how one can intend to say one thing and say quite another, or have a slip of the tongue, or even not remember a particular fact correctly, or, remembering it correctly and having it clear in one's mind, one nevertheless says something else. Ask anyone in radio or television or who does a lot of public speaking if these sorts of things are familiar to them, and they will say yes.
With that caveat in mind, on to my "over-parsing" and high octane speculation of the day. The way the president paints the story, he was sitting in the Oval Office one day, and had a flash of inspiration about space forces, and here we are. Well, maybe so, but I doubt it. I'm not buying it, Mr. President. As I noted above, space as a war fighting domain is just the reality of modern warfare; everyone knows it from Bangkok to Beijing and Bangor. And Mr. Trump, like any other president, would have received a briefing on the extent of US space forces at some point, even if only of a cursory nature. Russia, after all, has already made the move to place all its air forces under a wider command structure that includes space.
It's the remarks themselves, those three sentences, that leapt out at me: "We may even have a 'Space Force' - develop another one. Space Force, We have the Air Force; we'll have the Space Force." There are "parsing possibilities" galore here, but I cannot help put it out of my mind that what Mr. Trump did in his speech in California was that he went off script, and let something slip, which he quickly attempted to correct, and then realized the correction itself was a further slip, and then amended the correction. So here's the way I'm reading these sentences:
1) Admission of an existing Space Force: "We may even have a 'Space Force'
2) Realization of the slip of the tongue, and attempt to amend the slip: " - develop another one."
3) Realization that the amendment only adds confirmation of the admission, and an amendment is made to explain the word 'another': "We have the Air Force, we'll have the Space Force."
Now, admittedly, this may be parsing his words a too closely, for all the reasons I've outlined above. But placing them in the context of the whole hypothesis of a "secret space program", beginning with Ronald Reagan's memoirs' admission that the USA had a space lift capacity of about 300 persons - when our then-existing space shuttle capacity was far below that - makes Mr. Trump's remarks all the more noteworthy, and, in a week that saw Mr. Putin revealing the existence of a whole new, and very deadly, class of strategic delivery capabilities, perhaps the remarks weren't a slip of the tongue at all, but a message...
See you on the flip side...