Jump-starting US’ Space Force underwhelms, concerns lawmakers


WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR) — The President’s defense budget calls for a start up of the Space Force as part of the Air Force. The Pentagon says it’s moving as quickly as possible but Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan says the United States’ superiority in space is under threat from our adversaries.

The bottom line is the next major conflict may be won or lost in space.

Shanahan says both China and Russia have weaponized space by targeting our satellites, saying:

“Both China and Russia have weaponized space with the intent to hold American capabilities at risk.”

Shanahan told senators on the Armed Forces Committee that the Pentagon will move ahead with plans to launch a Space Force. He says the goal is to have a team based inside the Pentagon devoted entirely to space by 2024. 

But lawmakers from both parties are not enthusiastic.

West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin says it’s a waste of resources, saying: “This doesn’t make sense to me. I’m having a real hard time understanding why you need this other agency. You’ve got everything at your disposal now.”

Iowa Republican Joni Ernst says she’s concerned the Space Force will divert critical resources.

“I guess we need some convincing that there’s a necessity for a sixth branch within our armed services. And the implications on what that might do to hollow out some of the other forces.”

The President’s 2020 budget calls for $72 million spent next year to round out the Space Force with 200 employees. 

Arkansa Republican Senator Tom Cotton says that if America wants to be first, the country needs to be willing to make sacrifices. Cotton said:

“We don’t really get a choice on whether we want to fight in space. We only get a choice whether we want to win or lose in space.”

The House plans to hold its own Space Force hearing in June.

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