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Rand Simberg @Rand_Simberg
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People familiar with the history of the Air Force (i.e., not very many people, including most current enlistees of the Air Force), will understand this analogy of why we ultimately, if no immediately, need a space force. [thread]
In the early 20th century, only about a decade after its invention, army tacticians struggled to figure out what to do with it militarily. In Germany, they treated it as an extension of the cavalry (which was still an active thing).
As cavalry officers, the German pilots who flew the crazy powered kites of WW I had to wear sabers and spurs in flight.
For the next couple decades, doctrine eventually evolved, but with resistance (like the court martial of Billy Mitchell for showing that airplanes could sink a ship), but the next war forced the issue, and airpower finally got the resources it needed.
But at the time of Pearl Harbor, the Army Air Corps was pitifully ill prepared, though it had great planes on the drawing board, other than the P-40s that had been helping in China. The AAC was still flying biplanes. It took Pearl Harbor for airpower to get the needed resources.
And even then, if you wanted to get into military aviation, you had to enlist in either the Army or Navy, and hope for the best. There was no service dedicated to that. The Air Force was created after the war to remedy these issues.
So, in light of this history, FF to any decade post 60s, in which the USAF had been given responsibility for space, but has never known what to do with it, and considers it a distraction from its primary focus on atmospheric vehicles.
And anyone interested in military space has pretty much one option:: To enlist in the Air Force, hope for the best, and know that your prospects for promotion will be limited, relative to pilots in general, and fighter jocks in particular.
So the purposes of the Space Force (or Space Corps, which would be a transition, as the Army Air Corps was) are (1) to create an organization focused on space, with budget influence at the table at the JCS, and...
(2) provide a service in which someone interested in space, and not necessarily aviation, could enlist confident in the knowledge both they'd get to be involved with that, and whose focus was that, with good prospects for career advancement by being good at that.
Basically what the space people in the USAF are requesting is "let us take off our spurs."
Here's a related anecdote. My late great friend, USAF Colonel Bill Haynes, who commanded a century squadron in 'Nam, enlisted in the Army during the war, and told the recruiting sergeant that he wanted to go into space. This was 1944 (I think).
The sergeant replied, "Son, I don't think the Army is currently involved in that sort of thing." But he thought for bit, and said, "But sign up, and on your application where it says 'Areas of Interest,' write "Aviation To Extreme High Altitudes."
He did, and had an illustrious career in both the Air Force aviation, and in the space industry. But he died tragically, in his 80s but in great health, in a stupid auto accident on his way to church a few years ago, and never made it off the planet.
Credit to Jim Bennett, whose comment on my blog prompted this thread:…
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