HASC Approves Space Corps, Not Space Force

HASC Approves Space Corps, Not Space Force

The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) adopted an amendment in the early hours this morning to create a Space Corps within the Air Force.  It is similar to what the committee approved two years ago and different from the Trump Administration’s proposal to establish a Space Force, though both have the same overall goal of reorganizing how military space programs are managed and executed. HASC’s version is also different from what the Senate Armed Services Committee approved last month.

The amendment was offered by Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL).  Two years ago, they were the Ranking Member and Chairman of the Strategic Forces subcommittee, respectively, and originated the Space Corps concept.  Democrats now control the House so Cooper is now the subcommittee chairman.  Rogers is not the Ranking Member, but is a member of the subcommittee.  The committee also adopted a perfecting amendment offered by Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO).

The basic provisions are as follows:

  • Creates a Space Corps within the Air Force.
  • The Space Corps will be led by a presidentially-appointed, Senate-confirmed 4-star Commandant (similar to the Commandant of the Marine Corps which is part of the Department of the Navy). The Commandant will be appointed for a 4-year term.  In time of war or national emergency declared by Congress, the Commandant can be reappointed for up to 4 more years.  The Commandant reports to the Secretary of the Air Force.
  • The Commandant of the Space Corps will be a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  • The Space Corps shall include personnel and assets transferred from the Air Force, not from other organizations including reserve components such as the National Guard.
  • The Space Corps shall not include personnel or assets of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) or the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).
  • The Space Corps shall be organized, trained and equipped to provide freedom of operation for the United States in, from, and to space and prompt and sustained space operations.
  • It is the duty of the Space Corps to protect the interests of the United States in space and deter aggression in, from, and to space, and conduct space operations.
  • The Secretary of the Air Force may establish a separate, alternative acquisition system for defense space acquisitions.
  • The Secretary of the Air Force shall develop a plan regarding personnel development for the Space Corps.
  • The Secretary of Defense shall submit reports to Congress
    • with the detailed plan for the organizational structure of the Space Corps.
    • on the military and civilian personnel requirements of the Space Corps.
    • on the detailed plan for transferring functions, assets and obligations of the space elements of the Air Force to the Space Corps.
    • on the funding requirements of the Space Corps.

The Crow amendment states that no personnel or resources from reserve components, including the National Guard, may be transferred to a Space Corps until a Space National Guard has been established by law.  It also prohibits relocating any Air Force facility, infrastructure, or military installation.

Asked why the bill only allows transfers of personnel and facilities from the Air Force, but not the Army and Navy, to the Space Corps, Rogers replied that the goal was to write the amendment as closely as possible to what passed the committee and the House in the FY2018 NDAA by wide bipartisan margins.  The point now is to get the Space Corps established on a bipartisan basis and make refinements in the future.  He views this as an evolving effort that will also bring the Space Development Agency into the Space Corps in the next 3 years.

Rogers and Cooper originated the idea of a Space Corps in the FY2018 NDAA and the bill was adopted by HASC 60-1.  Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), who is now the Ranking Member of the Strategic Forces subcommittee, opposed the Space Corps at the time as did the Pentagon and the White House.  Times have changed and with the Administration proposing an even grander Space Force, today he supported it.

The Cooper-Rogers amendment, as amended by Crow, passed by voice vote.  The language is different from what the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) adopted last month.  Final details will be worked out in conference.

The bill itself cleared committee 33-24, with only two Republicans voting in favor.  The bill has a number of provisions, including the total amount of funding ($733 billion instead of $750 billion), to which Republicans object.

This article has been updated.



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