In 2018, President Trump requested the creation of the U.S. Space Force. Since then three competing visions for its structure have been crafted: one from the Department of Defense and two from the U.S. House and Senate. This brief compares these three legislative proposals to create a new military service for space.
As the administration moves forward with establishing a new military service focused on space, leaders should keep their language clear and use this opportunity to educate the public about both civil and national security space. Keeping NASA and the Space Force separate rhetorically and organizationally is best for national security and for space exploration.
The proposed creation of a new military service for space, known as the Space Force, is likely to be a hotly debated issue in the FY 2020 legislative cycle. This brief provides rough estimates for the number of military and civilian personnel, the number and locations of bases, the budget lines that would transfer to the new organization, and the additional personnel and headquarters organization that would be needed for the new military service.
Space capabilities are already an indispensable component of U.S. military power, and the threats posed to U.S. space systems by China, Russia, and others are growing by the day. A Space Force is needed to consolidate authority and responsibility for national security space in a single chain of command; to build a robust cadre of space professionals who can develop space-centric strategy and doctrine; and to avoid the conflicts of interest inherent in the other Services that have short-changed space programs for decades.
Establishing a Department of the Space Force by 2020 is rushing into an end solution without proper consideration. Although there have been several space reorganization studies in the past two decades, a comprehensive public debate of our current space capabilities and their organization is just beginning. An incremental approach to developing a comprehensive organization for our national security space enterprise is a smarter decision.