Warning against the separation of air and space military capabilities, the Air Force Association argues that the mission that President Trump’s proposed Space Force would carry out would be better accomplished with a new joint Aerospace Force.
The proposal to create a new Space Force as a sixth branch of the U.S. military has drawn a lot of buzz (as well as approval from Buzz Aldrin) since President Donald Trump first announced the plan in June and Vice President Mike Pence supplied more detail in August.
But an association that represents an existing military force is raising some major concerns this week.
In a position paper acquired by Space News, the Air Force Association argues that creating a new branch of the military would be complex and unnecessary because the Air Force is already well-suited to take on defense initiatives in space.
“The U.S. Air Force has led the armed forces in establishing America’s space capability such that it is unrivaled in the world,” AFA says in the paper. “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.”
AFA said it welcomes some aspects of the administration’s proposal, such as re-establishing the U.S. Space Command. But rather than establishing a sixth military branch devoted to space defense, AFA instead supports the creation of a U.S. Aerospace Force that would combine the Air Force and the proposed Space Force.
“The Space Force proposal is a resource question writ large,” AFA added. “Too much mission, too few dollars. Standing up a separate space bureaucracy amplifies the problem by driving more money to a headquarters function, not space operations. Congress has constrained space capabilities, not the Air Force, by underfunding the service.”
Estimates about the potential cost of the new military branch are starting to surface. According to a Defense News report, an Air Force memo puts the price tag at $13 billion over the next five years, including $3 billion in initial costs.
“To stand up a department that’s responsible for recruiting and training and planning and programming and budgeting and all of the leadership requirements that a department has, it’s a major undertaking,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told the news outlet. “It’s a bold idea.”