Pentagon official: 'Space Force' proposal to be sent to Congress in February

Pentagon official: 'Space Force' proposal to be sent to Congress in February
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Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan on Wednesday said the Pentagon will submit to Congress in February the legislative proposal for President TrumpDonald John TrumpChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report Trump attacks 'the Squad' as 'racist group of troublemakers' MORE’s desired "Space Force."

Shanahan, who has been tasked with leading plans to establish the new military branch, said top officials are now putting together the plan “we can carry forward in a legislative proposal."

He admitted, however that “we’re really wrestling with the how, of creating a Space Force.”

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“Unfortunately sometimes more energy is spent on what are the uniforms going to look like, or the rank structure, than what are the capabilities that we’re going to deliver and how do we go about that,” he told attendees at an Air Force Association conference in National Harbor, Md.

“I think for other folks it’s how do we make sure we preserve the important capability that we rely on every single day. The process that we’re going through, it’s not that it’s awkward, there’s a lot of really serious thinking and important trades to conduct.”

The cost, makeup and organization of Trump’s Space Force is still up in the air since Vice President Pence outlined the administration’s vision for the new military service at a Pentagon speech in August.

The Air Force estimates that the new branch could cost about $13 billion over five years, including $3 billion for the first year and $10 billion over the following four years. The Space Force would also need about 13,000 new personnel, according to an Aug. 14 from Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson.

Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, said the Space Force headquarters “will be lean, with every possible resource devoted to enhancing our capabilities.”

Also complicating matters is the sheer scope of creating a new service branch, which has not been done since 1947 when the Air Force was created out of the Army Air Corps.

“Over a very short period of time it’s been thrust upon us to create and grow a new organization. It’s been since 1947 that an exercise like this has been undertaken. So the playbook is out of date,” Shanahan said.

But he concluded that while there “will be some hand wringing and arm wrestling . . . we’re a team and we’ll solve it as a team.”

“Together we’re working to create a Space Force, which as you might imagine is a complicated process. But while there's plenty of debate about the how, we are united by the why, protecting our economy and deterring our adversaries,” he said.