Unless the Democrats figure out some way to block it, we’re probably going to be seeing the birth of the United States Space Force in the near future. But adding another branch to the United States military comes with a number of issues, not the least of which is the cost. As it turns out, the Vice President has set forth some fairly convincing arguments as to not only the need to do this but ways to make it financially palatable for the taxpayer. He explains most of the high-level points that would be involved in an op-ed at the Washington Post.
Since taking office, President Trump’s top priority has been to strengthen our national defense and protect the American people. We have made historic investments to rebuild our armed forces. We have removed unnecessary restraints on our commanders, giving them the rules of engagement they need to defeat our enemies. And to meet the emerging threats in space, the newest war-fighting domain, the president has called for the creation of the U.S. Space Force.
On Friday, the defense secretary released a legislative proposal at the president’s direction to establish the Space Force, within the Air Force, as the sixth branch of the armed forces. This legislation is the first step toward creating a new, separate military department for space in the future, and our administration will continue working closely with leaders in Congress on both sides of the aisle to get a bill that creates the Space Force to the president’s desk this year.
Space is central to our way of life. U.S. leadership in space has pioneered groundbreaking new technologies; revolutionized how we communicate, travel, farm and trade; supported countless U.S. jobs; and above all made the strongest military in the history of the world stronger still.
The Vice President is addressing the two biggest questions hanging over the idea of firing up a US Space Force. One is whether or not we really need this. This other is the obvious concern many people would have about the cost. While I’ve been skeptical of the idea myself since it was initially proposed, I have to admit that much of what Pence is putting forward makes sense.
As to the need, it’s beyond dispute that we are increasingly relying on our satellite technology for virtually everything in our lives. Whether you’re talking about the military’s ability to gather intelligence and direct warfighting maneuvers, tracking and warning people about violent weather conditions or simply your ability to navigate from point A to point B, satellites play a role. And we already know that the technology exists to take out satellites without much difficulty. We’ve worked on such operations ourselves, as have the Russians, the Chinese and a growing list of other nations with space programs.
As to the cost, that’s the big ticket item. Our military budget is already strained and regularly under attack from some elected officials. Adding a new branch to the existing five entities probably sounds like a money pit. But by folding Space Force into the US Air Force, much the same way that the Marines fall under the Navy, those costs can be minimized. The Air Force already handles much of our space activity anyway, so it’s a natural fit.
We’re talking about an estimated $72 million in the first year and under $2 billion total over the next five years. (That’s barely a third of what the proposed wall improvements on the southern border would cost, spread out over half a decade.) Rather than reinventing the wheel, we could make use of the experts we already have in space technology in a new initiative that will have all of the existing resources of the Air Force at their disposal.
If the Space Force was going to cost hundreds of billions of dollars to get off the ground it could never be approved and the idea would be strangled in the cradle. The need should be obvious for most people and the price palatable. And if it doesn’t work out it could be folded back into the existing Air Force structure. We should roll the dice and give it a whirl.