Whether or not Tweeter-in-Chief Donald Trump gets his Space Force despite the objections of pretty much everyone in the U.S. armed forces, one thing is clear: like winter, war in space is coming. The world’s superpowers are currently scrambling to construct and test next-generation space bases and weapons in an attempt to gain space superiority before those other guys do. After all, Mr. President, we must not allow a MINE SHAFT GAP!
Whether or not Moonraker-style zero-gravity laser rifle battles will be a real thing any time soon, defending from space-borne threats both man-made and natural is a serious priority for defense officials. Most of the current planning involves fairly down-to-earth matters like asteroid strike preparedness or defending our communications satellites, though. Which is why it’s odd that one of the U.S. Air Force’s top officers would tell an interviewer that the Air Force is eyeing other galaxies as new sites for their operations. Do they know something we don’t? Actually, let’s make that “what do they know that we don’t?” and “do we really want to know?”
At an Air Force Association event this week, USAF Lieutenant General VeraLinn Jamieson made the curious comments concerning other galaxies to Stephen Trimble, editor of FlightGlobal, an aviation intelligence consulting and analytics firm. At the event, Trimble asked LtGen Jamieson about the future of the USAF’s Rivet Joint aircraft, a signals intelligence platform. In response, LtGen Jamieson seemed to dodge the question and instead proceeded to tell Trimble that other galaxies will soon be prime real estate for the armed forces:
I am convinced that there are more domains – man-made domains – that will come, and I would offer you that if we look at galaxies – sounds nuts – but there’s going to be a man-made domain in galaxies.
When Trimble presumably blinked in confusion and asked her to clarify what she meant by “galaxies,” LtGen Jamieson replied that we’ve got to free our minds when it comes to conceptualizing about the military’s potential role in space:
Space has got different galaxies. And in those galaxies in the future we’re going to actually have capability that we have right now in the air. We don’t know what it is because we haven’t freed our mind to think about what is in that space and how we are going to utilize it. Space is contested. It’s going to happen.
Also buried in her reply is what appears to be a reference to unidentified objects here on Earth tracked by drones and the difficulties the Air Force has had in identifying them:
When we actually rolled out Predator there was one ball [sensor module] on Predator and it was not high-definition, but it was an EO/IR [electro-optical/infrared] ball and our airmen really had - that's where we started to identify 'What are you seeing?', 'Tell me what the object is." because we couldn't really do that. We then evolved to a high-definition EO/IR capability. We then put SAR [synthetic aperture radar] on it. We then put hyper-spectral there. We have to do the exact same thing in space.
Whether or not that comment actually has anything to do with unknown objects from space (probably not), it’s kind of weird to hear the Air Force’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance talk about freeing our minds and developing operations in other galaxies. On Twitter, Trimble himself noted that he’s “still baffled” about the exchange and even commented that the conversation "would have made a lot more sense if at least one of us was very stoned." Has the Air Force opened up some sort of stargate and is trickling out information in order to prep the feeble minds of the public before full-on disclosure? Or is this merely a somewhat rambling off-the-cuff remark further signalling that the future of the Air Force might indeed be the Space Force?