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Space Corps proponents: 'The time for study is over'

Space Corps proponents: 'The time for study is over'
© Greg Nash

Proponents of creating a new branch of the military dedicated to space said Wednesday the “time for study is over” after a House Armed Services Committee briefing on national security in space.

“The time for study is over: We must now act to effect change based on the repeated recommendations,” Reps. Mike RogersMichael (Mike) Dennis RogersOvernight Defense: Tim Kaine moves to claw back war powers authority | Study on sexual harassment and assault in the military Commissioners tasked with scrubbing Confederate base names sworn-in at first meeting China has already infiltrated America's institutions MORE (R-Ala.) and Jim CooperJim CooperDeJoy apologizes for mail delays while defending Postal Service changes Colorado presses Biden to reverse Trump Space Command move Five centrist Democrats oppose Pelosi for Speaker in tight vote MORE (D-Tenn.), the chairman and ranking member of the panel's strategic forces subcommittee, said in a statement.

“The consensus of the prior studies and reviews is that we must fix these problems. We believe the Space Corps is that fix. The status quo and further delay are indefensible.”

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In their committee roles, the pair have shepherded the plan to create a Space Corps that passed the House last week as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The Space Corps would be focused on addressing threats from countries such as Russia and China to U.S. assets in space, such as satellites.

The proposal has elicited huge opposition from the Pentagon, including from Defense Secretary James Mattis, Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Gen. Paul Selva, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein.

Opponents argue that not enough study has been done on the issue and that not enough time has been given to allow the Pentagon’s current efforts to reform its approach to space to work.

But proponents, such as Rogers and Cooper, argue the bureaucracy of the Pentagon has historically been resistant to change that was ultimately for the better, such as the creation of the Air Force.

Wednesday’s briefing, which was open to the full Armed Services Committee, covered information from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) about “historical perspectives of leadership and acquisition challenges in national security space,” according to the committee release.

It follows a classified briefing from the intelligence community Tuesday, as well as several subcommittee sessions on the issue.

“We believe it is imperative that members understand the challenges we are facing in space from our adversaries and from our own self-imposed impediments like the current organization of space within DOD and its space capability acquisition system,” Rogers and Cooper said. “The GAO provided a historical perspective on the remarkable overlap on the recommendations to fix the national security space enterprise.”

According to the release, reports, studies and commissions dating back to 1982 have identified fragmented leadership and lack of accountability as major causes of systemic failures in space acquisition. Those failings include billions of dollars of cost overruns because the “acquisition system is so complicated that no one is in charge,” the release says.