First group of ‘Spacemen’ sworn in at the Al Udeid air base.
The recently-formed United States Space Force has deployed a squadron of 20 airmen to the Khor Al Udeid air base in Qatar.
The force is the first new military branch created since 1947, when the U.S. air force was established. Many have criticised President Donald Trump about his decision to create the force as a vanity project ahead of November’s elections.
Rather than putting troops in outer space, the Space Force currently aims to protect US assets such as the hundreds of satellites used for communication and surveillance.
Military experts say that the Middle East has already witnessed the world’s first ever ‘space war,’ with the 1991 Desert Storm operation that saw the US military’s first use of satellite based GPS while fighting Iraqi troops who had invaded Kuwait.
“We’re starting to see other nations that are extremely aggressive in preparing to extend conflict into space,” Col. Todd Benson, director of Space Force troops at Al-Udeid, told the Associated Press. “We have to be able to compete and defend and protect all of our national interests.”
Airmen from the base were sworn into the Space Force in a ceremony on September 1, 2020.
“The military is very reliant on satellite communications, navigation and global missile warning,” said Capt. Ryan Vickers, a newly inducted Space Force member at Al-Udeid.
Despite the fear of setting off another ‘Space Race,’ American officials insist the new Space Force deployment aims to secure U.S. interests only, and is a response to steps taken by other powers.