The National Defense Authorization Act has been released to the public and it shows that the House Armed Services Committee has voted in favor of creating a new military branch to be called the U.S. Space Corps. The Act read the following,
“the United States Space Corps would operate in the interest of providing combat-ready space forces that enable the commanders of the combatant commands to fight and win wars. It would function as an extension of the Air Force, similarly to the Marine Corps does the Navy.”
The U.S. Air Force has already made it abundantly clear that space superiority is a core mission and priority for the agency because of spaces warfighting domain capabilities. Because of the interest in creating this additional military branch a Deputy Chief of Staff for Space was added to the roster and budget. Another indicator of how serious they are is the renaming of a few places one of which will now be the Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center to the National Space Defense Center.
However, the Air Force is one of the loudest and most prominent detractors of this possible agency creation. Representative Mike Rogers from Alabama said he was,
“shocked by the response by the Air Force leadership to the proposal.”
He went on to explain why he feels this branch of the military is necessary saying,
“Clearly, we’ve got some very serious, aggressive behavior by both the Chinese and the Russians in space. They have realized that that’s a great equalizer if they can get good at it, and they’re getting good at it fast. Unfortunately, we’ve become, just like every other war-fighting country, very dependent on space. The problem is 90 percent of space in our military is in the Air Force. So what we’re basically going to be doing is taking the current infrastructure – for example, Space Command in Colorado Springs will become the headquarters for the Space Corps. We’re talking about taking the people that we need to take that deal with space and segregating them into a culture that appreciates them.”
The Air Force Chief of Staff, as well as Secretary, have been very upset by this new addition because they feel that separating space defense concerns from the existing efforts of the Air Force is not appropriate considering it is in their domain. Secretary Heather Wilson said,
“The Pentagon is complicated enough. This will make it more complex, add more boxes to the organizational chart, and cost more money. If I had more money, I would put it into lethality, not bureaucracy.”
Rogers responded saying,
“The bureaucracy is always going to fight reform – always, especially the Pentagon,” Rogers told the broadcaster. They’re fighting this because they don’t want Congress meddling. You know, what I’ve told her is, in 16 years, the Air Force has not changed a thing. And they’ve got us in this situation now where Russia and China have become near peers. They’re close to surpassing us. What we’re proposing would change that.”
Spokesman Tom Spoehr for the Heritage Foundation gave his take on it arguing,
“In the minds of (House Armed Services Committee) members, the creation of a new service would better focus efforts to innovate and operate in space, but in actuality, it would be costly in terms of headquarters overhead, and would further subdivide those efforts.”
If the House and Senate were able to pass this legislation this would be the newest U.S. military branch since the Air Force was created in 1947. Currently, the U.S. Armed Forces is made up of the Navy, Army, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and of course the Air Force.
This new branch would report to the civilian Secretary of the Air Force and would consist of many of the functions that are currently handled by the Air Force as well as its Space Command. Despite the opposition, those who support the idea of this sixth military branch believe that the,
“Air Force’s focus on terrestrial flight, including hugely complex weapons systems like the F-35 fighter jet, prevents it from giving space the attention it deserves.”
If the Committee receives too much pushback from different armed services branches this idea could be dead in the water. But if they are able to mitigate it we might see something that not every generation is able to see. The future is space and that future might just include a military branch dedicated entirely to it.