How Much Will A Space Force Actually Cost? The Pentagon Has No Idea Yet

news
U.S. Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, brief reporters at the Pentagon, Arlington, Va., Aug. 28, 2018
DoD/Lisa Ferdinando

The Pentagon does not yet know how much the nascent Space Force will cost, but nonetheless is working with Congress to write legislation creating the new military branch proposed by President Donald Trump, Defense Secretary James Mattis said Tuesday.


“We have not done the costing estimates (on Space Force), that’s underway right now,” Mattis told reporters during a rare on-camera appearance in the Pentagon’s briefing room.

Earlier this month, Vice President Mike Pence announced the administration’s decision to create a Space Force as a branch of the military by 2020. While Congress had considered and rejected this idea over the last two years, the Trump administration laid out an ambitious agenda for the development of the first new military department since the Air Force was moved out of the Army in 1947.

As part of the fiscal 2019 defense authorization bill, Congress instructed the Pentagon to create a unified space command, replacing the current Space Command that is part of the Air Force. Mattis, flanked by Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that effort was already underway.

“Now we are implementing the National Defense Authorization Act and its provision for unified space command, in line with the president’s vision for a needed Space Force, while revising our vision for defending our assets in space and revising antiquated space acquisition processes,” Mattis said. “We are working now with Congress on our way ahead with regard to needed legislation for a separate department.”

Dunford said team leaders for the unified space command effort met on Monday.

“We’re still a few months away from standing up that command and coming to the secretary with a recommendation and the specific details of doing that,” he said. “What we don’t have is the full costs right now.”

Congress has stopped well short of creating a Space Force, and even rejected a proposal that would create a Space Corps within the Air Force, similar to how the Marine Corps is a part of the Navy. But Pence’s Space Force announcement met with immediate support from Reps. Mike D. Rogers, R-Ala., and Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., the top members of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces subcommittee and the architects behind the Space Corps idea.

Much of the resistance to making wholesale changes to the military’s space bureaucracy has come from the Senate. However, James M. Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican in line to become the next chairman of the Senate Armed Forces Committee following the Aug. 25 death of Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, recently signaled his willingness to consider the idea for inclusion in next year’s defense authorization legislation. Inhofe said he was open to holding hearings on the issue.

“If we’re gonna have (Space Force),” Inhofe said, “let’s go ahead and get on with it.”

Mattis also threw cold water on the possibility that U.S. forces in Afghanistan could be privatized, a proposal floated by Blackwater founder Erik Prince that has reportedly intrigued the president.

“When Americans put their nation’s credibility on the line, privatizing it is probably not a good idea,” Mattis said.

———

©2018 CQ-Roll Call, Inc., All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

WATCH NEXT:

CAMP PENDLETON — The military prosecution of a Coast Guardsman accused of murder began Wednesday with a preliminary hearing at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

Seaman Ethan W. Tucker, 21, was arrested August 28 after a seven-month Coast Guard investigation into the January death of Seaman Ethan Kelch, 19, who served on the same ship as Tucker— the Kodiak, Alaska-based high endurance cutter Douglas Munro.

Read More Show Less

ANKARA (Reuters) - President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday Turkey would press on with its offensive into northeastern Syria and "crush the heads of terrorists" if a deal with Washington on the withdrawal of Kurdish fighters from the area were not fully implemented.

Erdogan agreed on Thursday in talks with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence a five-day pause in the offensive to allow time for the Kurdish fighters to withdraw from a "safe zone" Turkey aims to establish in northeast Syria near the Turkish border.

Read More Show Less

President Trump stoked confusion Friday by declaring the U.S. has "secured the Oil" in the Middle East amid continued fallout from the Turkish invasion of northern Syria that he enabled by pulling American troops out of the region.

It wasn't immediately clear what the president was talking about, as there were no publicly known developments in Syria or elsewhere in the Middle East relating to oil. White House aides did not return requests for comment.

Read More Show Less

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. State Department investigation of Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state has found no evidence of deliberate mishandling of classified information by department employees.

The investigation, the results of which were released on Friday by Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley's office, centered on whether Clinton, who served as the top U.S. diplomat from 2009 to 2013, jeopardized classified information by using a private email server rather than a government one.

Read More Show Less

BYESVILLE — A Meadowbrook High School student removed from class last Friday for being intoxicated is now facing a felony charge after allegedly threatening to shoot people if the previous incident harmed his chances to join a branch of the United States military.

Gabriel D. Blackledge, 18, of Cambridge, is facing one count of making terrorist threats, a third-degree felony, filed by the Guernsey County Sheriff's Office on Thursday. Blackledge remained incarcerated in the county jail on a $250,000 bond with no 10 percent allowed, according to the sheriff's office's website.

Read More Show Less