Top general opposes Space Corps plans

Top general opposes Space Corps plans
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The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the latest high-ranking official to oppose a House plan to create a new branch of the military dedicated to space.

“I do not believe now is the right time to have a discussion about developing a space force with all of the leadership and infrastructure that would go with it,” Gen. Paul Selva told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, during his confirmation hearing to be reappointed vice chairman.

“It would also complicate the command and control of the space constellation, which is critical to our military operations.”

Selva was responding to a question from Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzObama praises Beto O'Rourke: 'Impressive young man' Dem bundler: Donors waiting on 2020 commitments until Beto O'Rourke makes decision The Hill's Morning Report — GOP victorious in Florida while Dems say `Sunbelt strategy’ looks bright for 2020 MORE (R-Texas) about the House’s plan to create a Space Corps.

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The plan was included the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed last week. The military service would be focused on addressing threats from such countries as Russia and China to U.S. assets in space, such as satellites.

No similar proposal was included in the Senate version of the NDAA, and the two versions must be reconciled with each other after the Senate passes its bill.

Several high-ranking officials have come out against the plan, including Defense Secretary James Mattis, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein. The White House also included the Space Corps proposal in its list of gripes about the House NDAA.

In written responses to advanced policy questions, Selva made many of same arguments other opponents of the plan have, namely that not enough study has been done and that not enough time has been given to allow the military’s current efforts on space to work.

“This proposal currently is without adequate study of the root causes of the identified problems, and assumes that a space corps will resolve space challenges without acknowledging the ongoing effort between the Air Force and [U.S. Strategic Command] to optimize management and integration to compete more effectively in a contested space environment,” he wrote.

Asked by Cruz during the hearing what else the military could do to better address space issues, Selva listed three in-progress steps.

First, Selva said, would be consolidating the military’s command and control of space into a single location in Colorado Springs. The National Space Defense Center, originally set up in 2015 as the Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center, is “functioning at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado as we speak,” Selva said. 

Second, he said, would be giving the commander of Air Force Space Command the responsibility of managing the entire military space constellation, rather than trying to manage it through subcomponents. U.S. Strategic Command implemented that change in the past few months.

“It’s time to let that play out and see if we can get some efficiencies out of it,” Selva said.

Finally, he said, an important step would be to continue moving authorities to the Air Force secretary on acquisition for satellite constellations that are “critical to military defense.”