Air Force Secretary: Space Force 'Bold Idea,' but US Already Dominates Space

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The Air Force is uniquely equipped to provide increased command and control, as well as other missions, a critical component in maintaining military superiority throughout the world.

President Donald Trump's dream of creating a space force as the sixth branch of the military may struggle to become reality amid opposition from congressional Republicans and criticism that the setup costs required are unjustifiable.

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson presented an update of the state of the Air Force Sept. 17, during the 2018 Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Md.

The U.S. Air Force had 401 squadrons in 1987, at the peak of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. She referenced a memo she signed on Friday detailing the Air Force's proposal on how to stand up a Space Force "that is bold, and that carries out [the President's] vision".

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"The Space Force proposal is a resource question writ large", AFA added. They say the force is needed because Russia, China and other US adversaries are building anti-satellite and other weapons that could threaten the USA military's dominance in space.

"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 has an unclassified annual budget of about $7 billion - out of a total Air Force budget of $8.5 billion for building and launching satellites and other space systems - and an unknown classified budget. 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.

A copy of the Air Force memo was obtained Monday by The Associated Press. Because of this, the Air Force must focus on readiness and acquisition to prepare for present and future operations.

Trump wants a dedicated space force to tackle defense threats in space and protect valuable military and intelligence hardware, such as satellites, from attack by rivals such as Russian Federation and China. "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". "Congress has constrained space capabilities, not the Air Force, by underfunding the service". In effect, it's not so much a debate centered on the merits of added defenses in space as it is a debate over bureaucracy and organization.

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"There are actions that the Air Force can take immediately", she said.

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One of the concerns among critics is that federal money will inevitably go into bureaucratic overhead costs, such as establishing a new headquarters instead of operations and research.

Wilson said: "We also know that there will be a debate about what we can afford - and that's fair".

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But in the meantime, the military isn't going to wait for a Space Force to develop in order to defend space.