Col. Jack Wassink is a former Marine Corps jet jockey with a weird new mission. This blunt, 45-year-old chief of the Marine Corps's tiny Space Integration Branch in Quantico, Virginia, shepherds the Marines' radical vision of space warfare.Unlike the Air Force, Navy and Army, all three of which sponsor expensive satellite programs, the cash-strapped Marines are pushing just one space concept. It's called Small Unit Space Transport and Insertion, or SUSTAIN, and it's a reusable spaceplane meant to get a squad of Marines to any hotspot on Earth in two hours -- then get them out. The idea is to reinforce embattled embassies, take out terrorist leaders or defuse hostage situations before it's too late. "The Marine Corps needs [this] capability," Brig. Gen. Richard C. Zilmer told Congress in 2004."The Corps has always been an expeditionary force, a force of readiness, a 911 force," Wassink says. "All SUSTAIN is, is a requirement to move Marines very rapidly from one place to another. Space lends itself to that role."Read more at Military.com. And check out Marines who aren't in space at my Flickr ... and in black and white in my graphic novel WAR FIX.-- David Axe
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