President Trump has fulfilled his promise of advancing an “America First” foreign policy in no small part by launching a full-fledged Space Command that will defend and preserve America’s space dominance.
“It’s a big deal,” Trump said at an event establishing the U.S. Space Command in the Rose Garden on August 29. “As the newest combatant command, SpaceCom will defend America’s vital interests in space—the next warfighting domain.”
Along with SpaceCom, the Trump Administration also plans to establish Space Force, an organization that will organize, train, and equip personnel to support SpaceCom’s mission.
Earlier this summer, Trump directed the Pentagon to create the Space Force as the sixth independent branch of the U.S. military, making a surprise announcement at the meeting of the National Space Council. The president said he intends to revive America’s flagging space program, citing growing security concerns from China and Russia’s anti-satellite weapons capability.
Headed by a four-star Air Force general, General Jay Raymond, Space Command “will boldly deter aggression and outpace America’s rivals,” while serving as a precursor to the Space Force military service. SpaceCom will be the 11th unified combatant command that will join the ranks of U.S. Cyber Command and U.S. Strategic Command.
Democrats Oppose Space Command
The establishment of SpaceCom is a “promise made, promise kept” policy victory. The Senate’s passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in May embraces President Trump’s Space Force proposal that counters Chinese and Russian threats to America’s space-based assets for satellite communications; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, as well as GPS.
And yet, the president’s goal for a unified space policy is not a done deal, thanks to Democrats seeking to block the dedicated space force.
House Armed Services members—mostly Democrats—continue to remain skeptical about creating a new armed service for space. Instead, House Democrats in July proposed a competing version of the Senate’s NDAA, which would substantially weaken the president’s spacefaring initiatives.
Voicing his opposition to the president’s Space Force, Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, called the creation of a new space branch “premature” and unnecessary.
It’s a shame Democrat lawmakers oppose the president’s plans. Despite the concept of a space military branch floating around Washington for years and the full spectrum of space-related threats facing the United States, Democrats remain obstinately opposed to anything that might advance Trump’s agenda. But as Americans, we must push through the Left’s shortsightedness; Congress needs to make the bold vision of a Space Force a reality.
Threats from Beijing and Russia
China and Russia are now aggressively challenging U.S. primacy in space. They have demonstrated the ability to jam space communications, blind optical sensors with lasers, launch direct-ascent anti-satellite weapons, and operate co-orbital anti-satellite weapons—all weapons that could cripple the United States in any future conflict.
We’re waiting to successfully test a NASA-sponsored program without using Russian rockets. Meanwhile, China earlier this year became the first nation to land on the far side of the moon, enhancing its international standing into the existing “space club” between the United States and Russia.
Why should Democrats move to approve a space force as the sixth military branch? Because space is an essential and emerging domain of warfare, and the United States must actively defend our national interests in space. The Navy, Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard organize, train, and equip within their domains of land, sea, air, and cyber. Space doesn’t have its own branch to equip, operate, and launch satellites and missiles into orbit. A brand-new military branch would be better suited in the interests of space operations and issues.
As Democrats play partisan politics with the Space Force, they also altered the NDAA by passing its version that changes the procurement process for another vitally important space program: the National Security Space Launch (NSSL). The NSSL is as essential to ensuring the president keeps his promise of placing America first as the Space Force is. The goal of NSSL is to allow America finally to be able to reach outer space on its own, without relying on adversaries, by ending reliance on Russian rockets. Predictably, Democrats are trying to derail that initiative as well.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) wants to make companies such as Blue Origin and SpaceX happy by requiring the Air Force to reopen bidding for launch contracts. The goal is not to advance the NSSL program through competitive bidding but rather to undermine it. By forcing the Air Force to revamp its entire competitive structure, Democrats hope the program experiences delays and misses deadlines. Ultimately, this would force Trump to admit defeat on his promise to secure America’s interests in space.
The decision to establish an independent Space Force under the U.S. Air Force is now in the hands of Congress. Lawmakers will soon begin negotiating the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act for the 2020 fiscal year. It’s alarming that Democrats do not all agree that a space agency is necessary to protect America’s national security interests in space. President Trump shouldn’t let Democrats entangled with bureaucracies derail his vision for space policy.