Defending the Nation - Part 2

November 14, 2017
In The News

If World War 3 were to break out tomorrow, many experts believe the first attacks would not happen on earth, but in space, and the targets would be satellites.

Everything from television programming to cell phone service to air travel to drone strikes and other military operations overseas rely on satellites for navigation and communication, and that makes them potential targets for America's enemies.

Controlling and defending space is one of the nation's growing priorities, and many believe it's time for what's known as Space Command with the US Air Force to become it's own separate branch of the military, to be called Space Corps.

Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein considers space the ultimate high ground.

"Space superiority is not an American birthright, it's something that we will fight for and we will continue to win," he said in September at the Air Force Association Air & Space Conference in Maryland.

The headquarters of Space Command is Peterson Air Force Base, but it also includes Cheyenne Mountain AFS and Schriever AFB.

Space now accounts for a major part of the Air Force's funding as well as its identity.

However, over the summer as part of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, the U.S. House overwhelmingly voted to separate Space Command into Space Corps.

The Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and even the White House were quick to object.

Mattis even wrote an uncharacteristic letter to the members of the House Armed Services committee, saying "I do not routinely comment on potential floor amendments of pending legislation. However, this particular issue warrants a response... I strongly urge congress to reconsider the proposal of a separate service Space Corps."

The military's concern is a new layer of bureaucracy it would create, including new obstacles for obtaining contracts and equipment.

But Congressman Doug Lamborn, who represents Colorado Springs, and many other lawmakers believe that space doesn't get the attention it deserves.

Lamborn says creating a space corps would mean less clutter for the agency.

"The defense community has so many layers of bureaucracy, and it's all well-intended, there's a reason why things are that way, but we need to cut through that bureaucracy and the red tape, and we need to expedite and streamline the acquisition process, so that we can have the newest technology up in space faster than we do today," he said.

The congressman added that although it's not the main reason he supports the bill, separating Space Command into a Space Corps could also bring new resources and jobs to Southern Colorado.

The Senate's version of the same NDAA did not include the Space Corps amendment, and last week, members of the House and Senate compromised and agreed to leave Space Command within the Air Force.

However, lawmakers made it clear they're not happy with the way things are currently operating.

On page 5 of the National Defense Authorization Act, lawmakers agreed to make Space Command, not the Air Force, "the sole authority for organizing, training, and equipping all U.S. Air Force space forces.

However, the NDAA later calls for the Assistant Secretary of the Defense "to enter in a contract with a Federally-funded Research and Development Corporation, without affiliation with the U.S. Air Force, to provide Congress with a roadmap to establish a separate military department responsible for national security space activities of the DoD, which may be required as Congress evaluates how supportive DoD is about this reorganization."

Many believe that this new independence lays the groundwork for a Space Corps in the near future.

To view this article in its original format, see KRDO