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What Will the U.S. Space Force Look Like?

By: Brian Zhou

· Domestic Policy

In March of 2018, President Donald Trump first introduced the idea of a “Space Force” while addressing Marines at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station, where many initially interpreted it as a joke. However, in the months since, the United States Space Force (USSF) has become something very real. According to the Department of Defense, the Space Force’s primary tasks would be to “protect U.S. and allied interests in space and to provide space capabilities that enable our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines.” It would consolidate all the various U.S. space efforts, which are currently spread across multiple branches, in order to increase efficiency and reduce resource waste. Furthermore, according to a Defense Intelligence Agency threat assessment, the growing list of foreign countries demonstrating the ability to destroy satellites already includes Russia, China, India, and Israel. In his confirmation hearing, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper also noted, "Space is now a warfighting domain. Not because we made it that way but because the Russians and Chinese are making it that way."

Earlier this year, the Department of Defense submitted an official proposal for the creation of a new space force. The plan would establish the USSF as a sixth military branch, beneath the Department of the Air Force, in a similar fashion to the Marine Corps. A new Joint Chief of Staff would be in command, while a new Under Secretary of Space would provide civilian oversight. Transferred personnel and resources from other services, mainly the Air Force, will be used to fill most of the new branch and are planned to make up 95% of the USSF budget. The Pentagon expects this transition to cost an additional $2 billion (0.05% of the defense budget) over the first five years. However, the proposal faces a predicament in Congress—the Senate Armed Services Committee and House Armed Service Committee have each outlined different plans for the actualization of the Space Force. Nevertheless, officials are forging onwards. As of Tuesday, the military has already begun looking for astronauts and technicians.

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