On September 20th, the US Space Force conducted its very first deployment outside US soil – and it’s not on the desert planet of Tatooine (from Star Wars), but rather to Qatar, in the Persian Gulf.
The squadron of 20 servicemen arrived at the Al-Udeid Airbase, located in a desert southwest the Qatari capital Doha, in late August, according to their commander, Colonel Todd Benson.
All of them were former air force personnel turned space force personnel.
— United States Space Force (@SpaceForceDoD) September 20, 2020
Just days earlier on September 14th, there was a transition ceremony in which a new batch of Space Force personnel entered the ranks.
— United States Space Force (@SpaceForceDoD) September 21, 2020
Just two weeks earlier, Air Force personnel joined the ranks of the Space Force.
Welcome to the team. https://t.co/5VVSS2Y1mv
— United States Space Force (@SpaceForceDoD) September 19, 2020
The Qatar-based unit will be tasked with running satellites, monitoring enemy forces and preventing conflicts in space, Benson pointed out, adding that more airmen will be later joining the “core space operators.”
The deployment is likely linked to Washington’s escalating squabble with Iran. Hopefully, Tehran isn’t building a Death Star.
Iran successfully launched a small military satellite earlier in 2020. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps praised it as its first ever successful space launch. It was much too small to feature any large-scale laser weapons, however, so the planet is also likely safe.
“We’re starting to see other nations that are extremely aggressive in preparing to extend conflict into space,” Benson told AP, without naming any specific countries. “We have to be able to compete and defend and protect all of our national interests.”
The Space Force was officially established by an act of Congress in December 2019, following a Trump initiative aiming to ensure US freedom of operation in space and deterring possible aggression.
It is the least-funded branch of military, with only $15.4 billion in 2021.
The creation of the space for was criticized by Russia and China, who insisted that outer space shouldn’t become a military theater and ought to be used solely for peaceful purposes.
But the Space Force was created specifically because, according to the United Stated, Russia and China were militarizing space, and that space needed some policing and “rules-based order.”
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