Washington, D.C. —There’s currently a push in the halls of Washington D.C., to establish a new branch of the military by 2019, one whose focus would be operations among the stars. Proposed legislation by House representatives would create a “Space Corps” that would serve “as a separate military service within the Department of the Air Force.” It would be the first branch added to the military since 1947 when the Air Force was officially established.
On Tuesday, the top two lawmakers of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, Representatives Mike Rogers and Jim Cooper, added the legislation to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The subcommittee oversees military space operations and works within the umbrella of the House Armed Services Committee.
“There is bipartisan acknowledgement that the strategic advantages we derive from our national security space systems are eroding,” Rogers and Cooper said in a joint statement. “We are convinced that the Department of Defense is unable to take the measures necessary to address these challenges effectively and decisively, or even recognize the nature and scale of its problems.”
Under the proposed legislation, the Space Corps would serve under the direction of the Air Force much like the Marine Corps serves under the direction of the Navy. But the military branch would have its own chief, equal in rank to that of Chief of Staff of the Air Force. Additionally, the Space Corps head would have a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The Air Force itself, however, seems somewhat cool to the congressmen’s idea. At a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the NDAA on Thursday, Air Force spokesman Colonel Patrick Ryder said the United States military should be focusing on coordination:
“We think right now it’s important to take the capabilities and the resources that we have and focus on implementation and integration with the broader force, versus creating a separate service.”
Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson echoed a similar sentiment while speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill on Wednesday:
“The Pentagon is complicated enough. This will make it more complex, add more boxes to the organization chart, and cost more money. And if I had more money, I would put it into lethality, not bureaucracy…I don’t need another chief of staff and another six deputy chiefs of staff.”
The entire House Armed Services Committee will have to approve the subcommittee’s additions to the NDAA before they can go any further. If that happens, the debate will move to the House floor, where the NDAA is expected to be voted on sometime after the Fourth of July.
Whether or not the legislation makes the cut, however, it should be noted that the idea of militarizing space is nothing new for the United States. As Anti-Media has reported, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work stated at a conference back in 2015 that space must “be considered a contested operational domain in ways that we haven’t had to think about in the past.”