The United States Space Force has given us a look at their new uniforms, and critics are savaging them on Twitter and elsewhere. That’s because the new uniforms are camouflage.
People on Twitter are piling on, pointing out that there’s no need for camouflage in space. (Well, there is if you’re fighting the Ewoks on Endor.)
If you want to look kind of smart, then by all means join in the chorus of derision and poke fun at them too. But if you do, you’re just picking low-hanging fruit, and you won’t actually be that smart.
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Obviously, there are no plants in space to hide behind. In fact, there’s nowhere to hide at all. Nor anyone to hide from. Because when any members of the Space Force do venture into space they will be inside—get this—space ships!
Now, you may say, “What use is camouflage inside a space ship? That sounds dumb too. What were they thinking?”
But here’s the thing.
They aren’t hiding from anyone. They aren’t running up and down the halls of the space station shooting at enemies and taking cover. In fact, the point of the Space Force is not to put troops in space.
So what are the uniforms for?
Every branch of every armed force in the world has a uniform. That’s because a uniform serves a purpose other than just camouflage. Everyone gets a uniform, but hardly anyone ever sees actual combat. The members of the Space Force will be here on Earth, monitoring activity in space and keeping an eye on any threats to US space infrastructure. They’ll be interacting with civilians, members of other branches of the military, and with each other.
Uniforms are a quick way for everyone to know where everyone else stands. Uniforms enforce standards and rank. Uniforms remind everyone what they’re a part of and how they chose to serve. And uniforms have served that purpose for an awfully long time. Military uniforms have been around at least since Rome, and they’re not going away any time soon.
The criticisms against the new uniforms are many.
But the criticisms are mostly foolish. Some people are just playing around and having some fun at the expense of the new uniforms. But some people are actually bent out of shape about them.
The point of the Space Force is to protect American economic interests in space. Satellites fulfill critical needs in the modern economy, and the value of economic activity in space is projected to grow enormously. So the justification for the Space Force is to protect American economic interests, and to protect American access to space. In fact, in Space Policy Directive 4, the goals of the Space Force are spelled out.
As far as the Space Force budget goes, it’s starting out with $40 million. Whether or not that seems like a large amount will depend largely on your values. But in the real world, where adversarial nations compete for resources and strategic positions in international affairs, having a military to back up your words is critical if you want to be taken seriously.
The US has long recognized their need for a branch of the military devoted to space. The US Air Force has been responsible for space security, but the arrangement isn’t ideal. A large number of the initial members of the Space Force will come from the Air Force.
In the end, this is a tempest in a teapot. The Twitter wits will move on to something else and everybody will forget about this. (Well, maybe Trekkies will keep hoping that Space Force changes their uniforms to you-know-what.)
But the Space Force is real, and so are their uniforms, and it’s likely here to stay, even if there’s a new administration in the White House soon.
That said if Space Force does establish a base on the Moon. This could be a good look.
Editor’s Note: The bigger question might be, what should we call them? Rick Tumlinson has a few suggestions.