WASHINGTON – Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) said China and Russia have moved past the United States in the development of national security space capabilities.
He called on the Department of Defense to invest more dollars in the U.S. military’s space capabilities.
“I can’t overstate this. What Russia and China are doing is startling and I describe it this way to people back home. Keep in mind, I’m from Alabama, as George Wallace used to say, you’ve got to get the hay down where the goats can get at it. So I tell folks it’s like this – if you are a little fella and you want to whoop a big fella, but you know there’s no way you can whoop him, he’s just too big, but if you can poke his eyes out and take his ears away from him, all of a sudden he’s blind and deaf,” Rogers said Wednesday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) during a discussion on “How to Organize Military Space.”
“You might actually whoop that fella – that’s exactly what this is about. Russia and China want to take our eyes and ears out – our military’s eyes and ears, because that’s what’s up there and that’s why they are spending an inordinate amount of money in their defense budget on space capabilities and they have both already reorganized,” he added. “China set up a Space Corps last year. We are behind the curve on this, and that’s the message I want the Air Force to acknowledge is that change is not a bad thing, necessarily.”
Rogers, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, has proposed establishing a Space Corps within the Department of the Air Force by 2019.
“They’ve got six months to produce a report that reviews the ‘organizational and management structure of the Space Corps.’ Then Congress would have the next six months to decide if it’s good enough or if they missed the mark. That gives them plenty of time to come to grips with the reality of the situation and help to actively shape what the solution will be,” he said of his proposed legislation. “In the meantime, Congress will be able to provide input when we receive an interim report on the Space Corps design, and we’ll be able to authorize and appropriate any funds necessitated by this new service.”
Rogers said the military’s national security space operations have become “critical” to winning wars.
“I would like to see the Space Corps remain in the department of the Air Force and I hope it fixes it but all these people I talk with are a lot smarter than I am and they all think that eventually it will have to be a completely separate department and service, and maybe they are right but I think that is truly a 15- to 20-year process,” he said.
Rogers responded to concerns about the cost of creating a Space Corps.
“Some people have said setting up the Space Corps will cost too much, but as I mentioned earlier the Space Corps hasn’t been designed yet. Nobody knows if it will cost too much. Again, the DoD gets to design the Space Corps and then Congress will take that information and authorize and appropriate needed funds in the FY19 budget process,” he said.
“I’ve heard some Air Force leaders say that they are working to integrate space and separating the Space Corps out hurts the space enterprise. Let’s be honest, space is special,” he added. “You fight and win differently in space. You also need to organize, train, and equip differently for space. The Space Corps embraces this philosophy.”