When then-President Donald Trump created the Space Force just 13 months ago, liberal pundits and late-night talk show hosts got a good laugh out of mocking the Pentagon’s newest service.
But they don’t have Trump to kick around any longer, and apparently, the 45th president got the last laugh.
On Thursday, The Washington Times reported that the Space Force, which launched its first mission in March from Cape Canaveral in Florida, will not disappear during President Joe Biden’s administration.
In fact, it may grow under the new administration, as Biden’s Democrats, who thought Trump could do nothing right, are embracing the service and even promoting it as their idea.
David Burbach, an associate professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, observed, “I don’t think the Space Force is in any danger of going away, but I don’t think it will be politically favored the way it was under Trump.” His comment first appeared in the industry publication SpaceNews.
The Times highlighted that “bureaucratic momentum” was moving the Space Force forward. “Some 2,200 members of the Air Force Space Command formally shifted to the new command last year, and another 3,600 plan to transfer this year. All told, according to projections, the Space Force will have 6,000 uniformed military personnel and 8,000 civilian employees.”
Biden will find it hard to shoot down the Space Force because China, Russia, and India are pursuing ambitious goals in space.
Moreover, the Times pointed out, “helping the Space Force’s cause is that the idea of a separate military service focused exclusively on space had bipartisan backing before Mr. Trump took up the campaign.”
“This is not a Trump idea,” Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper of Tennessee maintained. “He tried to hijack it long after the House Armed Services Committee voted 60-1 to establish a Space Corps. Trump’s blatant support of a Space Force does not make it a Republican idea.”
Democrats naturally want to make that case.
Then again, the Space Force got little public attention, or Pentagon funding or action, until Trump championed the program.
According to the Air Force’s website, defense agencies with space-oriented missions were organized under the Air Force in 1982. Air Force Magazine reported in 2001 that a Defense Department blue-ribbon panel, created by lawmakers who believed the Pentagon was not paying sufficient attention to space missions, recommended the establishment of a “Space Corps.”
The idea “found immediate favor in military and intelligence communities. There was applause for the panel’s highlighting of the vital economic and military importance of space activities to the nation and for its call for Presidential attention to military, civil, and intelligence space functions.” The committee’s report itself observed that “in the longer term it (a reorganization of the Pentagon’s space programs) may be met by a military department for space.”
The Center for Strategic and International Studies pointed out in 2017 that a subsequent attempt to do that was killed by the Obama administration in 2010.
It took Trump to make it happen. Last week the Air Force announced that the headquarters for Space Force will be at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama.
The Times noted that Biden may shift the Space Force’s mission away from Trump’s “militaristic” vision, but it’s not going away.
The paper quoted Vikram Mittal, an engineering professor at West Point, who recently wrote, “What might have been the punch line of many jokes is actually a much needed and relevant organization. The last century of warfare was decided primarily by air supremacy. The next century of warfare will likely be decided by space supremacy.”