- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Whatever you do, don’t call their troops “Space Cadets,” said the second-in-command of the newly established U.S. Space Force.

At a Pentagon briefing on Wednesday, Lt. Gen. David D. Thompson said one of the requirements of setting a new military force is deciding what the new members should be called. Nothing has yet been decided but there are some strong opinions out there, he said.

“What we’d like to do is ensure we’ve thought and broadly as we can (and) gotten the opinions of people who matter,” Lt. Gen. Thompson said.

That includes the young men and women sitting at consoles tracking and controlling satellites today who eventually will be brought into the U.S. Space Force.

But not every idea is a winner.

“Not ‘Space Cadets,’ [and] not ‘Space Men,’” Lt. Gen. Thompson warned.

At this point, the only person actually in the U.S. Space Force is Gen. John W. Raymond, newly appointed Chief of Space Operations. Other officers — such as Lt. Gen. Thompson — are assigned to the new military branch but still officially serve in another branch of the armed forces. In his case, the U.S. Air Force.

Lt. Gen. Thompson said he is often asked what exactly the U.S. Space Force does for a living.

“I can assure you we have plenty to do in the United States Space Force,” he said.

According to Lt. Gen. Thompson, the new U.S. Space Force had its baptism by fire during the Jan. 8, 2020 Iranian missile attack on the al-Asad Air Base in Iraq.

“Members of the United States Space Force detected those missiles at launch, typed those missiles at launch, provided warnings to our forces at al-Asad and other places in the theater and allowed them to take action to protect themselves from incoming missiles,” he said.

Lt. Gen. Thompson said Space Force members were tracking a pair of dead satellites last week that came dangerously close to colliding with each other over Pittsburgh.

“We do the analysis to determine whether those satellites pose a threat to themselves or others and we provide that information globally,” Lt. Gen. Thompson said.

In 2018, President Donald Trump directed the Pentagon to begin planning for a new, independent military service that would focus on space operations. The U.S. Space Force was signed into law in December 2019 as part of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.

“One of the key reasons that the leaders of the nation decided to create the Space Force was because there was also an increasing challenge and threat to our use of that domain by potential adversaries,” Lt. Gen. Thompson said.

“They are fielding weapon systems (and) they have communicated the intent to take our use of space away from us in conflict.”

Pentagon officials are now developing the organizational structure of the U.S. Space Force. Lt. Gen. Thompson said they have the opportunity to explore a new approach to creating a new military service.

“Our intent is to make it focused very much on the things that are required for a force to operate effectively even as we look to others to provide support functions that we need to operate,” he said.

The new Chief of Space Operations — now a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — wants the new branch to be one that will attract young people into the military.

“That’s where we’ve come thus far and that’s why we’re in the process of creating this force,” Lt. Gen. Thompson said.

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