The Trump administration’s proposed United States Space Force (USSF), which would act as a space warfare branch of the U.S. Armed Forces to control military operations in space, drew criticism from both Democratic and Republication senators on Thursday. In particular, the criticism stemmed from skepticism over whether the country needs to expand its military bureaucracy.
In support of the Space Force, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the proposal is necessary to maintain America’s “margin of dominance” in space, as Russia and China continue to develop their space capabilities, per Fox News.
“Both China and Russia have weaponized space with the intent to hold American capabilities at risk. Every member of this committee has access to the classified threat picture, but the bottom line is: the next major conflict may be won or lost in space.”
Shanahan suggested that even just five years from now, military operations in space will look very different. He highlighted the need to use what we know today to make the best decision moving forward into the future, per The Hill.
Senator Angus King, an independent from Maine, was skeptical, suggesting that the current approach of letting the Air Force handle space responsibilities is working fine.
“I’m genuinely undecided, although as you can tell, I’m skeptical. I don’t think it’s broken. You’re doing a good job. Why are we going to ‘fix’ it?”
The Trump administration's proposal for creating a Space Force as a new military service drew bipartisan skepticism in the Senate on Thursday, with several lawmakers questioning the need for expanding the military bureaucracy. https://t.co/xr8tqSeE0V— The Sacramento Bee (@sacbee_news) April 11, 2019
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts offered the harshest criticism, suggesting the none of the Space Force ideas presented were clear as to how they would improve security in space. She suggested that the new proposal is simply another organization that will ask Congress for money, and claimed that there is no indication that investing money into such a branch would decrease U.S. vulnerability in space.
If Congress approves the U.S. Space Force, it will mark the first new U.S. military service since the creation of the Air Force in 1947. Not only that, it would be the smallest service — with just 15,000 to 20,000 members. But despite its small size, The Hill reports that it would have the highest ratio of overhead operations of any service.
The Pentagon also plans to resurrect the U.S. Space Command, which was eliminated in 2002. The proposed resurrection is much less controversial than the Space Force, and would potentially oversee military space operations. If the Space Force plan is approved, it would be responsible for training and equipping the personnel of the U.S. Space Command.