Air Force leaders on Wednesday pushed back on a House Armed Services panel’s plan to build a new fighting force dedicated to space.
“The Pentagon is complicated enough,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told reporters following her testimony in front of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. “This will make it more complex, add more boxes to the organization chart and cost more money. If I had more money, I would put it into lethality, not bureaucracy.”
The House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee’s portion of the fiscal 2018 defense authorization bill (HR 2810), released on Tuesday, calls for a separate service dedicated to defending space, a responsibility that currently falls under the Air Force’s purview.
The new service would go under the Department of the Air Force but its leader would be a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, akin to the Marine Corps’ role in the Department of the Navy.
The panel is marking up its authorization language on Thursday.
The Air Force recently called for a 20 percent increase to space funding in the branch’s proposed 2018 budget. Both Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said they believe an additional military branch would hinder America’s position in space, which they believe will become a “contested domain.”
“If you’re saying the words ‘separate’ and ‘space’ in the same sentence, I would offer, you’re moving in the wrong direction,” Goldfein said. “That’s why the secretary and I are focused on how we integrate space. . . . Every mission that we perform in the US military is dependent on space. Now is not the time to build seams and segregate and separate — now’s the time to further integrate.”