Let’s start with the fact that a Space Force, authorized by the President, already exists. Only the President was Ronald Reagan and the force was activated on Sept. 1, 1982. It is formally known as the Air Force Space Command, and, as its name suggests, it is not a co-equal branch of the military, but a division of the Air Force—which itself was once a division of the Army, Navy and Marines. But the Space Command’s somewhat lesser status doesn’t mean it’s not a robust organization, with more than 36,000 service people stationed at 134 locations worldwide.
Space Command’s work involves Earth surveillance, weather forecasting, communications, command and control of ground-based weapons and satellite security. And it has the money to execute that mission: The Air Force’s space-related budget request for 2019 included $8.5 billion for acquisition and development of new Space Command systems, which is itself just part of a $44.3 billion space hardware bill over five years. None of that includes the cost of personnel, logistics, deployment, and all of the other expenses associated with keeping an operation of 36,000 people running. It’s an impressive enterprise. So what would you get out of spinning it off into a Space Force, which would require a completely separate command structure, Chief of Staff and bureaucracy, all of which would exponentially increase its budget? The answer is: not much.