Senate Republicans are holding their fire for now on the creation of a sixth branch of the military to guard America’s interests in space, punting a fight with President Trump despite deep-seated skepticism about the wisdom of such a move, DefenseOne reports.
But calls for a new service branch have faced fierce resistance within the Pentagon itself, including from Defense Secretary James Mattis. In a 2017 letter to Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, who chairs the House Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, Mattis argued that the move would add an unnecessary bureaucratic and administrative burden.
“At a time when we are trying to integrate the Department’s joint warfighting functions, I do not wish to add a separate service that would likely present a narrower and even parochial approach to space operations,” Mattis wrote to Turner, who has vocally resisted the move on Capitol Hill.
The debate over the need for a separate branch of the military to handle space-related defense predates Trump by several administrations. Proponents of the move say that the U.S. risks being outpaced by China or Russia, who could pose a serious threat to American intelligence and communications satellites. Critics, meanwhile, fear adding another bureaucratic layer to an already sprawling organization would prove too costly—perhaps unnecessarily.
AS RWT Reported earlier this month:
In coming months, Defense Department leaders plan to stand up three of the four components of the new Space Force: a new combatant command for space, a new joint agency to buy satellites for the military, and a new warfighting community that draws space operators from all service branches. These sweeping changes — on par with the past decade’s establishment of cyber forces — are the part the Pentagon can do without lawmakers’ approval.
“The Department of Defense is establishing a Space Force to protect our economy through deterrence of malicious activities, ensure our space systems meet national security requirements and provide vital capabilities to joint and coalition forces across the spectrum of conflict. DoD will usher in a new age of space technology and field new systems in order to deter, and if necessary degrade, deny, disrupt, destroy and manipulate adversary capabilities to protect U.S. interests, assets and way of life…This new age will unlock growth in the U.S. industrial base, expand the commercial space economy and strengthen partnerships with our allies.” ~ Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan
Chris “Badger” Thomas is a Veteran who served our country as an Army Combat Medic.