Policy

House Defense Panel Would Create Space Force

Next stop for the military, outer space? (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A House Armed Services panel intends to create a new fighting force called Space Corps within the Air Force to improve the U.S. military’s ability to address threats in space, according to a summary of the Strategic Forces panel’s forthcoming fiscal 2018 mark.

“There is bipartisan acknowledgement that the strategic advantages we derive from our national security space systems are eroding,” said a joint statement from Mike D. Rogers of Alabama and Jim Cooper of Tennessee, the panel’s chairman and ranking Democrat, respectively. “We are convinced that the Department of Defense is unable to take the measures necessary to address these challenges effectively and decisively, or even recognize the nature and scale of its problems. Thus, Congress has to step in.”

The Space Corps, they added, would be “a separate military service responsible for national security space programs for which the Air Force is today responsible.”

The panel intends to mark up its portion of the sweeping defense policy measure on Thursday.

Its mark also would establish U.S. Space Command as a four-star position under U.S. Strategic Command.

The measure would bar the Pentagon from buying satellite services if there is a threat that they could be compromised by cyber vulnerabilities or because they are launched by or contained parts from adversary nations.

The subcommittee also would authorize $705 million for missile defense systems in Israel that U.S. companies would develop or produce in conjunction with the Israelis.

The panel would institute oversight mechanisms to ensure a capable nuclear command and control infrastructure.

It would support several Missile Defense Agency priorities that were not formally part of the budget request but that were included on the agency’s first-ever unfunded priorities list, submitted to Congress earlier this month. These include requirement that the agency begin developing a new system of missile-tracking satellites and procure 24 additional interceptors for Theater High Altitude Area Defense batteries.

The panel also endorses procurement of 147 unrequested PAC-3 MSE interceptors for Patriot antimissile systems.

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