If your first reaction to the proposal for a "Space Force" is to chuckle, you are being shortsighted and perhaps even misinformed.

President Trump has conjured up images of Wookies and Star Wars Stormtroopers by instructing the Department of Defense and the Pentagon to begin studying the creation of a sixth branch of the military that would be known as the Space Force.

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The role of the Space Force would be to protect U.S. interests in space while developing ways to save the planet should a threat arise. It would not be to chase aliens through the galaxy at warp speed with lightsabers and droids in tow.

That would be fun, though.

Photo by NASA via Getty Images

Mark Albrecht, the former executive secretary of the National Space Council, tells National Geographic there is a lot of expensive stuff floating around in space that is largely unprotected.

“Space is a place where there is now tens of billions of dollars (in infrastructure," he said. "Everything from financial transactions to the GPS that guides your car is controlled from space or at least facilitated by space.”

Cell phones, cable TV, and the internet are just a few of the things for which we rely on satellites in space.

Add to that the rapidly expanding interest of other nations in space exploration, and suddenly it makes sense to discuss ways to protect what is up there.

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In addition, a Space Force would defend Earth in the event of an incoming asteroid. How exactly to do that has been under study for some time now, and there are some very interesting theories.

The idea of a Space Force or Space Corps is not a new one. It has been talked about for decades. The race to space is back on with other nations working to develop colonies on the moon and beyond. The U.S. watched as the Soviets were the first to enter space, and we were forced to play catch up. Let's not wait until the Chinese or the Russians launch a Space Force of their own before we act.

America should lead the way with space exploration, and in doing so, must protect its assets in space and on Earth. A Space Force could do just that.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.