Senators from both parties repeatedly questioned senior DOD officials Thursday about whether adding a sixth branch of the military would improve space operations. The Senate Armed Forces Committee meeting was the first formal hearing on the administration’s Space Force proposal, The Hill reported.
“When we first heard about the proposal, I asked two simple questions: What will the organization fix, and how much will it cost?” Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said in an opening statement. “It has come out of the administration that this is going to be a $2 billion program. So, for my purposes, I’m going to assume that’s right. But I’m still waiting for the answer for the other question.”
Ranking member Jack Reed (D-R.I.) also questioned if a new branch would counter increasing space threats.
“I fully agree that the threat is real and that changes need to be made to better address the threat,” Reed said. “However, creating a new branch of the Armed Forces for the first time in 70 years is not a decision Congress should make lightly.”
DOD leaders argued a Space Force is inevitable as Russia and China will militarize space in the future.
“Five years from now is going to look much different,” Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said. “I think sometimes we look through the lens of today and we extrapolate going forward.”
If approved by Congress, the Space Force headquarters would be created in 90 days, and the service would be operational by 2024, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told the committee.
Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Rusty Frank