Colonel John D. Cinnamon was an early advocate for an independent Space Force, an argument he articulated in a 2012 master's thesis at the Naval Postgraduate Warfare school just republished by Nimble Books as part of my effort to accelerate the growth of the publishing ecosystem around Space Force.
He is currently a Principal Senior Analyst for the United States Space Force. I thought it would be interesting to ask him about his current perspective and he was kind enough to oblige in his personal capacity.
As a military history publisher, I especially like his reference to the "Army Air Corps era".
Q: You were an early voice calling for the creation of a standalone Space Force. How would you situate your thesis in the history of that decision?
A. Discussions about establishing a separate Space Force has been unofficially held for years in 2011, but many in Air Force leadership quickly dissuaded serious planning. A large portion of the Air Force budget was/is allocated to space programs, and the Air Force leadership did not want to lose the ability to control parts of the that space budget. In 2011 and 2012, when this thesis was being researched and written, the Air Staff wanted nothing to do with serious contemplation of a separate Space Force.
Q. In your author biography, you mention that the initial reaction to your analysis included "resistance." What were the major sources of resistance, and perhaps some of the more colorful reactions?
A. One of the most telling signs of Air Force resistance was the amount of negative commentary on a separate Space Force in the published literature – as opposed to the amount of positive commentary or analysis. Additionally, the faculty at the Joint Advanced Warfighting School were hesitant to approve my research topic and warned of career consequences.
Q. How was that resistance overcome?
A. Resistance to writing and defending the thesis was overcome by arguing for academic freedom and the fact that the thesis wasn’t going to be sanctioned Air Force policy or position. Resistance to a separate Space Force was only overcome by significant Presidential pressure and executive order. Without that leadership from the Commander-in-Chief, the Air Force would have successfully ended the effort to create a separate service.
Q. Now that you are in the fortunate position of seeing a visionary proposal become reality, how does reality compare with expectation? Does anything feel surprisingly different than you envisaged?
A. The current iteration of the Space Force is somewhat different than what I argued. Having the Space Force reside under the Air Force as its parent service, the Space Force still has to negotiate its budget and policies through the Department of the Air Force. What really is needed, and will hopefully come soon, is a Department of the Space Force – truly independent and equal to the other branches. We are really living through the “Army Air Corps”-like period in the evolution. I believe lawmakers will soon realize that as Space Force matures and the importance of space as a distinct warfighting medium increases, a truly independent Space Force will be a necessity.