Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, chairman of the subcommittee on aviation and space, endorsed the Trump administration’s plan to create a Space Force at a hearing Tuesday by extolling the virtues of a new branch of military that would help prevent, and protect the U.S., from space pirates.
“Since the ancient Greeks first put to sea, nations have recognized the necessity of naval forces and maintaining a superior capability to protect waterborne travel and commerce from bad actors…Pirates threaten the open seas, and the same is possible in space. In this same way, I believe we too must now recognize the necessity of a Space Force to defend the nation and to protect space commerce and civil space exploration,” Cruz said.
The Trump administration signed off on the creation of a U.S. Space Command in December 2018. The original U.S. Space Command was disbanded in 2002 but the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act reestablished the U.S. Space Command under the U.S. Strategic Command. The Trump administration, however, authorized the new, improved U.S. Space Command should be reestablished as a full unified combatant command.
The new military division requires Congressional approval and discussion currently revolves around cost (reportedly an additional $2 billion to start, with another $1 billion added to the Pentagon’s yearly budget), manpower (5,400 to 7,800 in new personnel with overhead and management responsibilities), and autonomy (should Space Force be a part of the Air Force or its own separate combatant command?).
As debate continues, budget commitments have already been allotted with regard to the Space Force.
A defense spending bill would give $15 million to study the implementation of Space Force but would not go towards creating it as a branch of the military.
Despite the seriousness of the Space Force — the Pentagon is openly discussing the need as Russia and China both look to conquer space, as it were — Trump detractors have dismissed the idea and made the effort the butt of more than one clever joke. But Sen. Cruz’s comparison to military divisions created to address piracy on the open seas is an apt one: The U.S. Marine Corps began in a very similar fashion just before the founding of the new nation and very few have the temerity to laugh now at that particular division of the armed forces.