No Starfleet Academy or Space Force Rifle Squads

Dear Readers: Your trusted correspondent at the Pentagon apologizes for not sending a Run-Down last week. There was a lot going on. In just four days, the Ministry of Defense failed its first audit; a woman was selected for the Army Special Forces Qualification Course for the first time since 1981; and two Navy SEALs and two Marine Corps Special Operations Command Raiders have been charged with the murder of a Green Beret.

If the news was cocaine, your humble reporter would have been face down in a mountain of stuff on Friday night, much like Al Pacino at the end of “Scarface.” (Don’t do drugs, kids.)

But your friend and humble narrator is back to answer a question close to his heart: will the new Space Force be more like star trek Where Starship Troopers? (For Battlestar Galactica fans who feel left out, please send this reporter your staff college essay examining the civil-military relationship between President Roslin and Admiral Adama.)

Under President Trump, the Pentagon asks Congress to authorize Space Force as the sixth military branch. How much the new service will cost is up for debate. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson has estimated Space Force will cost at least $13 billion over five years, but Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan recently said the price could be less than $5. billions of dollars.

One factor that could affect the cost is whether Space Force has its own service academy. This is why your friendly Pentagon correspondent recently asked Shanahan if he was in favor of the creation of a “Starfleet Academy” of the Department of Defense.

“I don’t think we can afford one right now,” Shanahan replied at a Nov. 15 press conference.

Ah, but the value of a Starfleet Academy cannot be limited to dollars and cents. All “Star Trek” fans know that space skippers need a place to learn valuable lessons, like what to do in a “no-win” scenario, like saving a ship in the Neutral Zone or testifying before lawmakers from large-scale during a television hearing on budget overruns.

Shouldn’t the first generation of Space Force commanders be the ideal combination of intelligence and strength embodied by Captain Jean-Luc Picard, a man whom Marine Corps Commander Robert Neller once praised for his abilities? leadership? (Although Picard’s celibate romance with his ship’s doctor could be interpreted as fraternization under the UCMJ).

Alas, it doesn’t appear the MoD is interested in cultivating a cadre of Picards – at least not yet.

“There is no plan in our legislative proposal for a Starfleet Academy,” Army Lt. Col. Joseph Buccino, Shanahan’s spokesman, told Task & Purpose. “It would actually take a specific act of Congress to create a new service academy.”

That said, there is always hope for the future. The Air Force became an independent military branch in 1947, but it didn’t open the Air Force Academy until 1954, Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies told Washington, DC Harrison also pointed out that the Department of Defense already has enough professional military personnel. Space Force education schools.

“The Space Force should either send cadets to the other academies, or cadets from the other academies should be allowed to apply to be commissioned into the Space Force,” he told Task & Purpose. “For SME schools, the Space Force should just pay to send personnel to either co-educational schools or other service schools.”

If Space Force doesn’t opt ​​for the “Star Trek” model, perhaps the late author Robert Heinlein offers a viable alternative. In his novel “Starship Troopers” – which, contrary to popular belief, does not include a unisex shower scene – all of the future army’s top leaders were originally enlisted infantry soldiers who attended the school. officer candidates.

The reason is that Heinlein’s army is basically 100,000 grunts; everyone from chaplains to the top four-star general fights space bugs.

But at the moment, we don’t seem to be heading in that direction. In fact, as this reporter pointed out to Shanahan in a recent conversation, Space Force attracts personnel from every service. except the Marines. Doesn’t Space Force need infantry to seek out and destroy alien life?

“Joe,” Shanahan replied, pointing to Lt. Col. Buccino, “would you like to take a note, so we can make sure we talk about this at the next space governance meeting?”

Harrison was more blunt: “The only need for riflemen in Space Force would be to guard the door to the room where vintage arcade games are stored, like Galaga and Asteroids.”

SEE ALSO: Pentagon refuses to discuss how it plans to screw up new Space Force uniforms


Jeff Schogol covers the Pentagon for Task & Purpose. He covered the army for 13 years and integrated American troops in Iraq and Haiti. Prior to joining T&P;, he covered the Marine Corps and Air Force at Military Times. Any comments or thoughts to share? Email them to Jeff Schogol at [email protected] or direct message @JeffSchogol on Twitter.