President Donald Trump’s theoretical ‘Space Force’ looks like it is in trouble.
The Pentagon, concerned the Space Force may not make it through Congress as a proposal for a completely new branch of the military, is mulling downsizing the organization into a division of another established armed service, particularly the Air Force, according to DefenseOne. The setup would be similar to the Department of the Navy, which controls both the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.
DefenseOne reports there are four options on the table: a Space Force under the Department of the Air Force that takes only Air Force space assets, a Space Force under the Department of the Air Force that takes Air Force, Army, and Navy space assets, an independent service that takes from the other three armed services, and an independent service that takes from the three other armed services and the U.S. intelligence community. The U.S. intelligence community controls the bulk of U.S. spy satellites, particularly the National Reconnaissance Office.
The four options roughly follow the old Pentagon technique for getting a decision from higher ups: when presenting superiors with options, present them with one they’ll never choose, one you want, and one you can live with. Of the four options, the Trump Administration favors the third option: consolidation of all armed services space operations under a single service. It is willing to live with option number two. The first option is unlikely to gain support because it doesn’t go far enough, and the fourth option will likely run into opposition from those who wouldn’t want Space Force to take assets away from the broader U.S. intelligence community.
The Space Force is facing unexpected opposition in Congress, specifically Senate Republicans who see it as unnecessary. Several senators, including members of the powerful Armed Services committee, are opposed to the creation of a new service. Even Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis is reportedly against the idea. Mattis fears that a new service could evolve a “narrower and even parochial approach” toward space operations. All of the armed services utilize space to some extent, particularly when it comes to GPS navigation and communications. Mattis concern appears to be that the could Space Force lose sight of the mission of supporting forces on the Earth.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies claims that an independent Space Force would cost between $11.3 and $21.5 billion annually, with 96 percent of that coming from existing spending in the other armed services folded into the new Space Force.
Originally published on Popular Mechanics