Mitchell Institute Releases New Policy Paper:
“Organizing Spacepower: Conditions for Creating a US Space Force”

ARLINGTON, Va (August 8, 2018) —The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies is pleased to announce the latest paper in its Mitchell Institute Policy Papers series, “Organizing Spacepower: Conditions for Creating a US Space Force,” by Lt Col Michael Martindale, USAF, PhD, the associate director of the Institute for National Security Studies at the US Air Force Academy and Lt Gen David A. Deptula, USAF (Ret.), the dean of the Mitchell Institute.

As the White House, Congress, and the Department of Defense debate the way forward on a proposed new “US Space Force” championed by President Donald J. Trump, Martindale and Deptula take a step back from the debate and lay out some of the conditions and considerations for ensuring the construction of a new space-centered force actually achieves its stated goals. Their new policy paper argues that the eventual creation of such a force is a good idea, however there are important conditions which must be met in order to ensure such an organization will succeed in meeting US national security space objectives.

Martindale, who researches space policy and strategy, and Deptula point out that the process behind the creation of the US Air Force in the aftermath of World War II provides elements of an effective model to determine the appropriate conditions and necessary steps to take to help mitigate risks for a new space-focused force. These conditions, applied to the space domain, include redefining the US as a “spacefaring nation,” demonstrating the ability of spacepower to fulfill peacetime roles, create political support for a new space-focused organization such as a Space Force or a Space Corps, develop a general theory of spacepower to build strategy and doctrine off of, and demonstrate the capability to produce direct combat effects in and through space.

Some of these conditions have been met, Martindale and Deptula write, while others have not yet been fulfilled—and deserve closer attention and focus. The eventual creation of a US Space Force, the pair write, is in the US’ best interests in the long term, but must be “planned and executed deliberately” and done so in a manner that ensures the Air Force can recover and rebuild its aerospace power across its mission sets. By itself, they note, “standing up a US Space Force will not necessarily improve the resource deficiencies a robust space architecture demands” and premature separation could pull space professionals from the community of warfighters they have worked so hard to integrate with over the past quarter century.

The Mitchell Institute Policy Papers series presents new thinking and proposals that respond to emerging security and aerospace power challenges facing the US and its allies in the 21st century. These papers are targeted at lawmakers, their staff, policy professionals, business and industry representatives, academics, journalists, and the informed public, and aims to provide in-depth insight and perspective to help illuminate potential policy solutions.

For more information on the series, and inquiries about submissions, contact Mitchell’s Director of Publications Marc V. Schanz at or visit our website, at

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