Former Air Force secretary: Trump's proposed Space Force is a waste of resources

A former secretary of the Air Force, Deborah James, said she doesn’t think President TrumpDonald John TrumpBooker hits Biden's defense of remarks about segregationist senators: 'He's better than this' Booker hits Biden's defense of remarks about segregationist senators: 'He's better than this' Trump says Democrats are handing out subpoenas 'like they're cookies' MORE’s proposal to create a separate Space Force is a smart move, calling it a waste of time and resources.

“I don’t think it will address any of the challenges we need to focus on – I think it’s the wrong way to go,” James told Hill.TV co-hosts Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton on “Rising.”

“The question is: Does a brand-new bureaucracy that needs to be stood up with perhaps thousands of new people, and billions of dollars to set up the infrastructure, is that the right way to address what really needs to happen? And I say no,” James continued.

James, who served under the Obama administration, highlighted the importance of developing new technology to help the military win wars in space, but said the Pentagon's time is better spent continuing to test and develop technologies rather than create a whole new division. 

“A new branch of the military would take focus and resources away from technology – not toward it,” she told Hill.TV.

Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceThe most important pledge Democratic presidential candidates can make Pence communications director to leave White House White House crowd sings 'Happy Birthday' to Trump MORE last Thursday outlined plans to create a sixth branch of U.S. military known as the Space Force, which could be established as soon as 2020. Pence cited the need to preserve the America’s dominance in space.

“To prepare for the next battlefield, where America’s best and bravest will be called to deter and defeat a new generation of threats to our people, to our nation," Pence told an audience at the Pentagon alongside Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump's reelection message: Promises kept The Hill's Morning Report - Trump's reelection message: Promises kept Shanahan drama shocks Capitol Hill, leaving Pentagon rudderless MORE.

Mattis has offered support for Trump’s proposal, despite urging lawmakers to oppose a separate space service a year ago over budgetary concerns. The Defense secretary defended his initial stance, saying he was only against “rushing to do that before we could define the problem.”

But James says Mattis may not have had much of a choice, adding that Trump “went off script” with his proposal after the military didn’t react strongly enough to his wishes.

“You have a position where the military – including Secretary Mattis – even though they're on record against the idea, they’re stuck because unless they’re prepared to resign or risk being fired they now have to do their best to implement what the president has said,” James said. 

The president has been floating his idea to create a Space Force for months.

Trump first introduced the idea during a speech in March while speaking to the service members at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in California. While admitting that it first started as a joke, he said he later thought it was a “great idea.”

— Tess Bonn