By Mona Salama, TES Contributor
President Trump has launched a full-fledged Space Command that will rise to the challenge of defending and preserving U.S. dominance in space — but only if Congress approves it. Democrat lawmakers need to support the President’s proposal and stop playing partisan politics in Washington while China and Russia outflank us in space.
Along with Space Command, or SpaceCom, Trump directed the Pentagon earlier this summer to create the United States Space Force as the sixth independent branch of the military, citing growing security concerns from Chinese and Russian anti-satellite weapons capability. This new organization would train, equip and manage key personnel to support SpaceCom’s mission, which is critical to its success.
Headed by a four-star Air Force general, General Jay Raymond, SpaceCom will “boldly deter aggression and outpace America’s rivals”, while serving as a precursor to the Space Force military service. SpaceCom will be the 11th unified combatant command that will join ranks of U.S. Cyber Command and U.S. Strategic Command.
While a de facto “Space Force” exists within the Air Force, it’s been slow in detecting threats from adversaries because it is solely focused on superiority in the air and not in space.
The establishment of SpaceCom is a “promise made, promise kept” policy victory for President Trump, but it is far from a done deal thanks to Democrats seeking to block the move. The Senate’s passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in May embraced President Trump’s Space Force proposal to counter Chinese and Russian threats to America’s space-based assets for satellite communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, as well as GPS.
Unfortunately, House Armed Services members — mostly Democrats — continue to remain skeptical of the need a new armed service for space. Instead, House Democrats in July proposed a competing version of the Senate NDAA, a weak amendment to create a space agency called Space Corps. This would be an independent military branch within the Department of the Air Force with its own streamlined acquisition system, a four-star commandant on the Joint Chiefs, and a civilian secretary. Space Corps also would lack direct oversight of missile launches conducted by the military, a critical weakness.
It’s a shame Democrat lawmakers oppose the creation of a robust, dedicated Space Force. America faces an array of space-related threats, yet Democrats remain obstinately set against anything that might advance Trump’s agenda — including neutralizing national security threats in space.
China and Russia are aggressively challenging America’s primacy in space. They have demonstrated the ability to jam space communications, blind optical sensors with lasers, launch direct-ascent anti-satellite weapons, and operate co-orbital anti-satellite weapons that could cripple key components of U.S. defenses in conflict.
Why should Democrats move to approve a space force as the sixth military branch? Because space is an essential and emerging domain of warfare, and the U.S. must actively defend our national interests in space. The Navy, Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard organize, train, and equip within their domains of land, sea, air, and cyber. Space doesn’t have its own branch to equip, operate, and launch satellites and missiles into orbit. A brand-new military branch would be better suited in the interests of space operations and issues.
The decision to establish an independent Space Force under the U.S. Air Force is now in the hands of Congress. Lawmakers will soon begin negotiating the final version of the NDAA for the 2020 fiscal year. Democrats need to stop politicizing Trump’s agenda and work together to approve an efficient and effective U.S. Space Force.
Mona Salama is a political analyst and fashion influencer.