Published: Sat, September 22, 2018
Research | By Jody Lindsey

Air Force Secretary: Space Force 'Bold Idea,' but US Already Dominates Space

Air Force Secretary: Space Force 'Bold Idea,' but US Already Dominates Space

The 15-page memo signed by Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson offers the first official estimate of the near-term costs of building a sixth branch of the military to focus on fighting in outer space, and outlines the Air Force's ideas for doing so.

About one-sixth of USA federal spending goes to defense, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

"The Air Force has a lot of authorities now to continue to accelerate defendable space so that we dominate and win", Wilson said. It not only provides the best possible vantage point to surveil activity on earth, it also greatly facilitates navigation, communication, targeting, and command and control. "The first question was: 'What problem are we trying to solve?' It's that adversaries are developing capabilities to deny us the use of space". The $13 billion projected cost over five years is based on a force of 13,000 people, including a headquarters of about 2,400. Wilson's memo emerged in the wake of Shanahan's request and was in some elements out of step with the Pentagon's plan to stand up the space-focused branch by 2020.

Brig. Gen. David Gaedecke, the director for the Air Force's Cyberspace Operations and Warfighting Integration and CIO for the Information Dominance office, pointed to the development of the Aeronet as an example of quickly fielding new capabilities.

The Air Force is considering launching a cyber rapid capabilities office, Air Force Cyber Commander Gen. Robert Skinner said during the Air Force Association's Air, Space, Cyber conference on September 17. "We are really wrestling with the how".

In a detailed memo submitted on Friday to Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, Wilson provided the first glimpse into the potential cost, size and makeup of a military branch for space.

The Air Force analysis did not include a price tag and Wilson declined to speculate on costs.

Asia Cup 2018, Pakistan vs Afghanistan, Super Four
Spinner Rashid Khan scored a fifty and took two wickets as Afghanistan maintained their winning run in the tournament. The Afghans need to be careful as Pakistan would look to come back in the game after heavily losing against India.

He added that the Pentagon looks to Congress for the necessary legislation in creating the sixth branch.

Adding 74 squadrons (each squadron typically has 12 to 24 aircraft) would require an additional 40,000 personnel, both military and civilian, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said, leaving the Air Force with a headcount of about 725,000 by 2030, compared to the current projection of roughly 685,000.

The Air Force, she said, meets the threats the nation faces with its most basic unit, the squadron. Today, to split up the well-integrated set of air and space capabilities that have been organized to seamlessly contribute to America's military capabilities would result in more harm than good.

Wilson, meanwhile, told reporters on Tuesday that the $13 billion estimate "is a conservative number".

The position paper quotes then-Air Force Chief of Staff Thomas White as saying in 1958, as the Space Age began, that "Air and space are not two separate media to be divided by a line and to be readily separated into two distinct categories; they are in truth a single indivisible field of operations..."

But she said the service has a duty to tell the American public what it and the Defense Department as a whole need to meet threats from countries such as Russian Federation and China.

At a meeting of the National Space Council on June 18, however, Trump made clear that he means business, directing Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to "carry out that assignment". The effort to create a Space Corps within the Air Force was driven on a bipartisan basis by leaders of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC).

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