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Now that the United States Space Force has been established, the new military branch is facing a pressing issue that grows in importance by the day: What will be its song?
That's right. Just like the other military branches, Space Force will have its hymn – even though in space no one can hear you sing.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan nearly ripped a hole in the Space-Time Continuum on Thursday when he told reporters that the nominees to lead the Space Force would be announced soon.
"Travelling in Florida Thursday, Shanahan said that he already has nominees in mind for the top spots of the Space Force," as first reported by Aaron Mehta of Defense News.
Well, there are a couple of problems with that: First and foremost is that the service does not exist. (To be clear, the word "exist" applies to things that are real in the literal sense as opposed to goals, dreams, aspirations, and success in Afghanistan.)
Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."
"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."
First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.
"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."
Ever since Robert Heinlein introduced the world to the fascist future of intergalactic warfare with 1959's Starship Troopers, the world has been fixated on seeing the powered armor he envisioned become a reality.
Heinlein's powered armor comes in many shapes and sizes. Call it an exoskeleton like the U.S. Army does or an 'Iron Man' suit like the minds behind U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit occasionally do. But everyone loves the idea of skimming enemy territory with jet-assisted leaps and bounds, your Y-rack firing out small H.E. bombs every couple hundred yards while looking like, in Heinlein's words "a big steel gorilla, armed with gorilla-sized weapons.
The bizarre garbage pile that the Ghanian military trotted out last month is the complete opposite of that.
Beloved readers: Your trusted Pentagon correspondent apologizes for not sending out a Run-Down last week.There was a lot going on. In just four days, the Defense Department failed its first audit; a woman was selected for the Army’s Special Forces Qualification Course for the first time since 1981; and two Navy SEALs and two Marine Corps Special Operations Command Raiders were charged with murdering a Green Beret.
In 1959, Robert A. Heinlein published his iconic sci-fi military epic Starship Troopers, popularizing the concept of exoskeleton body armor that allows soldiers to carry more and move further and faster. Now, after many years of trial and error, Lockheed Martin is finally sending a pair of robot legs known as ONYX to the Army for field testing.