The Pentagon says it will cost about $2 billion over five years to establish a U.S. Space Force, according to a legislative proposal sent to Congress this week. The proposal calls for lawmakers to approve Space Force as a sixth branch of the military, joining the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.
At the same time, the Pentagon is proceeding with plans to create a U.S. Space Command, a combatant command residing within the U.S. Air Force. The new organization, which does not require congressional approval, would get rolling in the 2020 fiscal year with about 200 staffers, at a cost of $72 million. About 15,000 personnel would transfer in over the next four years, with the cost rising to roughly $500 million a year. Those costs are in addition to the $10 billion the Pentagon already spends annually on space-related operations.
The proposal could encounter significant resistance in Congress. Some lawmakers have expressed doubts about the need to create a separate branch of the military, and others aren’t sure why the Pentagon wants to build both a new combat command and a new branch of the military at the same time. “It is kind of a confusing thing when you talk about a Space Force and you talk also about the combatant command and part of the two are similar,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said at a hearing earlier this week. Defense officials are expected to provide more details on the proposal in the coming weeks.