Thursday, April 09, 2020

Space Force: A New Arena for Interservice Rivalry

The Space Force is the sixth newest branch of the US military. Similar to the Marine Corps, it is situated within an existing branch—the Air Force—and after a year will have a seat at the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Established in 2019, once it is fully materialized, the Space Force will act as a centralized chain of command for military activity in Space.

Currently, Space activities take place in the Army, the Air Force, and the Navy, making the creation of the Space Force as source of contention between the services. The Air Force Association argued that the Space Force would eat up funding through excessive budget and administrative costs for little to no added benefit. Defense Secretary Mattis opposed the Space Force for similar reasons, citing “additional organizational layers” and overhead costs.

The Space Force has no clearly defined objectives or role yet, and that ambiguity is causing tension within the US military. As the Space Force becomes established, the fate of Space-oriented programs in the Army, Navy, and rest of the Air Force are uncertain. It is unclear whether their responsibilities would be absorbed into the Space Force, or if they would continue to operate in those services. The Space Force will also increase competition surrounding the annual defense budget allocation. The Air Force, Army, and the Navy already fight over their annual allocations as they try to modernize and maintain their forces. As the Space Force begins to operate, the Air Force will have to require a higher allocation of funds, likely increasing the rivalry between the services.

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