Now that President Donald Trump has announced that he is directing the Pentagon to create a new branch of the military called Space Force, many people are wondering just how this compares to former President Reagan’s announcement in the 1980s about his Star Wars initiative. The two are actually very different. Read on to see the speeches announcing both and what both programs entail.
Here is Reagan’s announcement from March 23, 1983 (it’s near the end of the speech, around the 25:00 mark, where he focuses speaking about the defense initiative.)
And here is news coverage about his announcement:
Reagan’s Star Wars program (the Strategic Defense Initiative) is actually significantly different from what we know so far about Trump’s Space Force military branch. Here is Trump’s Space Force speech today:
So how are the programs similar and different? The main similarities is that both programs have a partial basis in maintaining the United States’ prominence in space and staying ahead of other countries. But Trump’s program appears to be more geared toward providing a safe environment in space, whereas Reagan’s program was creating a defense grid that would stop incoming missiles. The two programs have a very different focus. It’s always possible that Trump’s program, being a new branch of the military, could take on a more defensive and military-focused approach at some point. But for now, the two are similar in name only.
Trump said today the Space Force will be the sixth branch of the military and will help revive the United States’ space program, ensuring we don’t fall behind China, Russia, and other countries. This new Space Force will be an independent “separate but equal” branch of the military. The Space Force’s purpose will be to oversee the safety of U.S. spacecraft and astronauts. So we won’t be fighting aliens in space battles just yet.
In his statement, Trump said: “This is a giant step toward inspiring future generations and toward reclaiming America’s proud destiny in space…” The Space Force will “lead the management of traffic and mitigate the effects of debris in space… (and provide) a safe and secure environment as commercial and civil space traffic increases.”
Reagan’s purpose for the Star Wars program was very different. During a time when nuclear war was an ever-present concern, the Strategic Defense Initiative was going to be a missile defense system to protect America from ICBM and submarine-launched missile attacks. He wanted to render nuclear weapons obsolete and end Mutually Assured Destruction. The program studied the use of lasers, particle beam weapons, and missile systems. It would need combat centers and satellites around the world to work. But in 1987, the American Physical Society reported that the technology was decades away from Reagan’s goal. The budget was cut and the program continued to be controversial. Some were concerned it would actually restart an arms race if Mutually Assured Destruction ended. In the end, the program was ended in 1993 during former President Bill Clinton’s administration.
So as you can see, the two programs really aren’t similar at all. Do you think Reagan’s Star Wars program should have been completed? Let us know in the comments below.