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Guest: Dean Cheng: Topics: A comprehensive discussion on the issue of creating a separate US military force, The Space Force. We also focused on policy, the Chinese military & space programs and much more.,
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We welcomed Dean Cheng to the show for a comprehensive discussion regarding the possible need for a separate US military force to be known as the Space Force. During our 1 segment 84 minute discussion, Mr. Cheng presented a detailed analysis of the Chinese military and space programs, their doctrines and future plans, plus he explained the structure and organization of the US military. Understanding the structure of our military was and is key to understanding the potential need for a space force, what the administration can do and what Congress needs to do. For example, not only did our guest spend considerable time talking about the Chinese side regarding military, space, doctrine, plans, capabilities both offensive and defensive, plus understanding the two divisions of our military and combatant commands proved vital for our discussion. You need to listen carefully to what our guest said on these issues but briefly, the US Space Command can be created by DOD as it simply changes the organization of the military. To create a new military service known as the Space Force requires congressional approval. Again, don't miss this discussion as it was very important, not just to our program but to our understanding of the space force issue and our consideration of it.
Our discussion also included an analysis of the role the USAF has played and is playing in our current efforts to address space issues. Note that a big part of this analysis has to do with the lack of military career paths and trained space military officers (discussed later in the show) and AF budget and allocation issues and practices. We also discussed the AF mission as compared to a separate Space Force mission. Understanding all of this was important when we started talking about listener suggestions to form a Space Corp to be organized in a similar way the Marines have been organized as part of the Navy. In addition, in this part of our conversation, Mr. Cheng was asked about space force supporters being able to make the case to the public and congress for a space force given the complexity of the issues involved as our guest had been discussing. While our guest was citing Chinese doctrine and practices, I brought up their development of the artificial islands in the South China Sea and their claim of territorial waters in the area where that claim is no recognized by the international community or law. Listen to what Dean had to say about the South China Sea island and its meaning for Chinese space doctrine and perspective.
I presented our guest with a listener email asking about China and Russia and their signature of the various UN space treaties. Dean explained that the treaties do not prohibit what China or Russia are doing or planning to do but they do prohibit WMDs in outer space Don't miss this important clarification. The proposed Russian-Chinese no weapons in space treaty came up but our guest pointed out that the proposed treaty would not stop China from its current development and implementation path. Dean also commented on the arms control community and their perspective. Another part of this discussion stated that most of the forces were focused on LEO but for the US, we were not focusing on MEO or GEO while China was developing anti-GEO weapons of various types.
We fielded several listener emails during the program that talked about the public opinions on a space force and how many have come to believe a space force would be about protecting or rescuing space tourists and defending American space minding operations. Dean had much to say about these misconceptions and told us a weather satellite story to help illustrate the points he was making. In addition, we talked about the historical experience of separating the AF from the Army AF decades ago, the role of Billy Mitchell in getting that done and more. The historical discussion was most interesting and at times included the role of aviation for the Army and even for the Navy aboard early aircraft carriers.
Ben sent in a note about the budget cost estimates recently provided by the Sec. of the Air Force, asking our guest why it would be so expensive to create a space force. Our guest took us through many of the budget issues and concerns regarding the $13 billion estimate over five years. He did say that it was not that much considering the overall DOD budget but listen to all of what he said about this. Please post your comments and thoughts on this and other issues brought to our attention in this discussion by posting on our blog.
Dean was asked to predict the outcome of a congressional debate along with US input regarding the creating of the space force. In discussing a possible outcome, he pointed out that China created a similar space force with merging of many of their strategic programs into the PLA back in 2015. Russia did something similar as well. Dean was then asked about the value of the National Space Council. He thought it was a very valuable tool in this discussion and for foreign powers to consider. Listen to what Dean said about the NSC
John from Ft. Worth was a caller (note that Marshall was the first caller earlier in the show and one who brought up the Billy Mitchell comparison) but John's phone line quality was really bad. I kept the call going as I was barely able to understand him but I came close to shutting it down. I apologize for the rotten audio but I wanted John to make his points with our guest. John's call was about finding alternative and perhaps more economic ways to get the benefits of a space force without actually having to create the space force. Dean had much to say on these issues so don't miss this important discussion. That said, as you will hear, given the way our military is structured, creating the space force is a good option. He also said creating the separate space force would be easier than overhauling our DOD, military and even how congress might consider and approve things. Again, I urge you to listen to all of this important fairly short segment near the end of the program.
I asked our guest for closing comments, a summary of the issues so be sure to listen to his closing comments. Also, a few late listener emails came in asking Dean for his experiences when he has been interviewed by big media names and personalities. Dean talked about the dismissive approach to this subject by media, focusing in on late night TV and comedy. Please be sure to hear the closing part of our discussion.
Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this show. You can reach Dean Cheng through his Heritage Foundation website page, www.heritage.org/staff/dean-cheng or me at my doctor space address.