Space Force to Cost $12.9 Billion Over 5 Years

Space Force to Cost $12.9 Billion Over 5 Years

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson estimates that a Department of the Space Force and an associated unified combatant command will cost $12.9 billion over 5 years. The estimate is included in a September 14 memo signed by Wilson.  President Trump directed DOD to create a sixth military department for space earlier this year.  Wilson said today that the Air Force has a responsibility to develop a “bold” proposal that answers the President’s vision.

On August 9, Vice President Mike Pence released a DOD report, spearheaded by Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, outlining what a Space Force could be and also calling for creation of a unified combatant command (U.S. Space Command), a Space Development Agency, and a Space Operations Force. Pence added that he wanted to stand up the new Department by 2020 and create a new position of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space.

No cost estimate was provided, but Shanahan told reporters later that he expected it would be “billions.”

Wilson’s September 14 memo fills in some of the details from the Air Force perspective.  The Associated Press and other news organizations obtained a copy of the memo and posted stories about it today.  A reporter from Inside Defense tweeted a page showing the calculations for creating the new Department and the unified command.

The Air Force memo also reportedly expresses Wilson’s opposition to creating an Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space position.

Last week Space News published a story about a different memo, that one from Shanahan himself and dated September 10, on space reorganization at the DOD level.  One important difference is that his memo indicated that no Intelligence Community components would be part of the Space Force, while the Wilson memo says some should be included.

Wilson spoke at an Air Force Association conference today spelling out her ideas on “The Air Force We Need.”  The speech does not go into the details of the September 14  memo, saying only that on Friday the Air Force delivered its proposal to DOD “on the responsibilities and structure of a new Space Force” and “we have a responsibility to develop a proposal for the President that is bold, and that carries out his vision.”

Congress must act to create a new military department, but she listed actions that can be taken now, including restructuring the Space and Missiles Systems Center to buy systems “faster and smarter” and working with DOD and the Joint Staff to create a unified combatant command “that puts a warfighter’s focus on space operations.”  She also noted the Space Rapid Capabilities Office created by Congress to “accelerate programs of high national priority.”

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