PLA Daily: US New Space Policy Directive Faces Many Constraints Before Coming into Effect
(Source: China Military Online; issued March 01, 2019)
US President Donald Trump signed the Space Policy Directive-4 (SPD-4) on February 19. The new memorandum set the basic principles for establishing the US Space Force. Trump also asked the US Department of Defense to draft relevant bills and submit them for congressional approval. As the US latest move to form the Space Force, the directive was the stage result of the discussion between various parties in the country and blueprinted the plan of the US Space Force.

However, the new directive only signifies the attitude of the US government and President Trump. Its implementation still faces many constraints.

Firstly, it remains to be seen whether the bill will be passed. The establishment of the Space Force must be approved by the Congress. Considering the fact that a number of objections from Congressmen in the early stage, and that the House of Representatives is currently controlled by Democrats, it is still unknown whether the bill can be successfully passed though it is a product of a compromise. If the bill fails to be approved, everything discussed at this stage will not be implemented.

Secondly, there are still a lot of questions about creating an entirely separate and individual branch of the US military. In the US, the traditional space military force has been led by the Air Force for many years, and the concept of integrated air and space capability has been deeply rooted. Once the Space Force is established, all the organization, leadership, and regulatory system need to be reframed. The demarcation and running-in with the Air Force is also a major problem.

American research institutions have published articles listing the shortcomings of the creation of the Space Force, including undermining the existing military balance, creating new obstacles to the integration of joint forces, the inevitability of redundant construction, and the emergence of new bureaucracies. Therefore, if formation of the Space Force in the future does not achieve expected results, the possibility of being revoked cannot be ruled out, which is not uncommon in the history of the US military.

Finally, such a movement has solicited a lot of opposition among the international community. Most countries advocate the peaceful use of outer space, oppose the weaponization of space and arms race in space, as well as the use of space as a new battlefield. Whether the US will deploy weapons of mass destruction in space in the future will be an important indicator for further enhancement of capabilities in space operations. This kind of unilateral strengthening of space military strength by the United States may arouse the worries and uneasiness of other countries and even lead to a new space arms race.

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