Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The United States Space Corps - The Resurrection

It was understood that due to it's previous rejection in the U.S. Senate last autumn that the fate of the proposed sixth branch of the U.S. armed forces dubbed "The Space Corps" by it's proponents was sealed and sent to whatever page in history pipe dreams go. That was until Monday morning at least when POTUS45 announced that he was directing the Department of Defence and The Pentagon to begin work on establishing the new branch of the armed forces responsible for asserting U.S. dominance in space, apparently a "recent idea of his" which he has designated "Space Force".

However, this bizarre directive which can't actually be enacted without Congressional approval (something that was refused last year) may be years before such a force could be fully established. The announcement apparently took the Pentagon by surprise although as part of last years NDAA deliberations, it has been working to deliver an interim report to Congress by August on whether it's feasible to carve out a separate Space Force branch from the U.S. Air Force. If POTUS45 got wind of it, he likely made up his own mind about it and simply told people to get it done.

However, the creation of a new military service is not a small policy that can be simply added to an annual budget request, it's "major legislation. It is going to take years. I don't think Congress will get around to authorizing it until next year at the earliest," said Todd Harrison, director of the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in an interview on Monday.

It's conjectured that the creation of the space force may not have a huge impact on the annual budget request due to the DOD likely leveraging personnel and capabilities it already has but if requires an accompanying service academy like the Air Force Academy, then it will all add up exponentially.

"Renewed space threats are driving this -- Russia and China," Harrison said "This is what reignited this in 2016, and the concern was the Air Force wasn't moving fast enough. But the biggest winners if a space force happens? Contractors. Anywhere from 15,000 to 20,000 personnel could be added to the space force, augmented by a force of contractors and civilians that may be double that number. That's where the experts are."

Air Force leaders past and present almost unanimously agreed against the previous suggestions of establishing a Space Corps last year. However, following POTUS45's order Monday, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldstein (left) voiced agreement with the president's position that the U.S. military approach to the space domain must become more robust to meet current and future challenges (as publicly disagreeing would likely need to be followed by their resignations). A statement from the Air Force brass included: "The President's statement to the National Space Council adds emphasis to the Air Force position -- space is a warfighting domain and the entire national security space enterprise must continue to enhance lethality, resilience and agility to meet the challenge posed by potential adversaries," they wrote. "We look forward to working with Department of Defense leaders, Congress, and our national security partners to move forward on this planning effort."