June 30, 2017

CHANGE: House panel votes to split Air Force, create new U.S. Space Corps.

As part of its version of the 2018 Defense authorization bill, the House Armed Services Committee voted late Wednesday night to create a sixth branch of the U.S. armed forces: the U.S. Space Corps, which would absorb the Air Force’s current space missions.

You could be forgiven if you haven’t been closely following the debate about creating the nation’s first new military service since 1947. Several members of the panel said they themselves were blindsided by the proposal, and staged an unsuccessful effort to block the change until it could be studied further — or at least until the full committee had held at least one hearing on the subject.

Well, there have been Very Important Hurtful Tweets to talk about. Also, some people may have met some Russians or something.

But the measure, which would also establish a new U.S. Space Command and make the new chief of the Space Corps the eighth member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has the support of both Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), the chairman of the full committee, and its ranking Democrat, Adam Smith (D-Wash.) The bill language was developed by Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) and Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), the top Republican and Democrat on the strategic forces subcommittee.

All of them argued Wednesday that the creation of a dedicated service for space had been studied for years, and that the idea’s time had come. . . . The bill would order the Defense Department to establish the new corps by January 2019. It would be a distinct military service within the Department of the Air Force, in much the same way the Marine Corps operates as a service within the Department of the Navy. The Secretary of the Air Force would oversee both the Air Force and the Space Corps, but the new chief of staff of the Space Corps would be a new four-position, co-equal with the chief of staff of the Air Force. DoD would have to deliver reports to Congress in both March and August of next year on the details of how it plans to set up the new service.

I’m tentatively in favor.

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