Don’t get your hopes up too high about becoming a space marine quite yet. But if the House of Representatives’ version of the 2018 defense budget goes through, you may soon be able to enlist in the US Space Corps.
Back in January of 2001, days before the inauguration of President George W. Bush, a commission headed by future Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned of a “space Pearl Harbor” and urged a reorganization of the military to put a greater emphasis on warfare in the space domain—defending US communications and intelligence satellites, and if necessary taking out the satellites of adversaries. In their report, the Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Management and Organizations told Congress, “The US is more dependent on space than any other nation… Yet the threat to the US and its allies in and from space does not command the attention it merits.”
A few things happened that derailed efforts to change that perceived neglect. But now the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) has breathed new life into those old plans by including a provision in the House version of the 2018 US defense budget that would create a separate military service dedicated to the cause of space as a warfare domain: the US Space Corps. It would also create a separate joint command, the US Space Command, breaking the role out of the US Strategic Command much in the way that was done with the US Cyber Command.
Currently, the Air Force owns the US military’s space mission, including procurement of launches for military and intelligence payloads and the operation of major US launch facilities. While the new service would be administered by the Secretary of the Air Force (much as the Marine Corps falls under the Department of the Navy), it would be a separate branch and rate a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The plan apparently snuck under the radar of several key members of the House Armed Services Committee, who protested that they only became aware of the provisions when it appeared in the full appropriations bill brought before the committee on June 28. But it has the support of both HASC Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) and the committee’s ranking Democrat, Adam Smith (D-Wash).
The plan, developed based on the Rumsfeld commission’s report, was put together by the ranking Republican and Democrat on HASC’s strategic forces subcommittee, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) and Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.). “Space has not been given adequate priority by our friends in the Air Force,” said Cooper.
Rogers countered complaints of little warning from his colleagues, asserting:
There’s been nothing shortsighted about this. We started working on it vigorously in September, and we’ve had countless meetings with a number of experts who have advised us as to how this should be construed. GAO has done three studies on this, all of which tell us that you cannot maintain the current organizational construct of the Air Force and solve the acquisition problems and the operational problems that we have. The Air Force is like any other bureaucracy. They don’t want to change.
The Space Corps plan is part of a budget package that will deliver nearly $700 billion in funding to the military, billions more than requested by the Trump administration. The Senate version of the budget does not currently include the same provision.
Source: Ars Technica