The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Lost in Space: New Branch Makes Little Sense

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


Citizens Against Government Waste has previously covered the idea of creating a sixth military branch. 

The argument in favor of a Space Force is almost entirely without merit.  It will increase bureaucracy, add to overhead costs, and complicate existing command structures, all without providing additional capabilities. 

For these very reasons, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was opposed to the idea prior to ultimately supporting it (possibly with some light cajoling from his boss).  Secretary Mattis denounced the notion of a Space Force in a July 10, 2017 letter to House Armed Services Committee Tactical Air and Land Forces subcommittee Chairman Michael Turner (R-Ohio), warning that it would create a “narrower and even parochial approach” to space operations, and that “…I believe it is premature to add additional organization and administrative tail to the department at a time when I am trying to reduce overhead.”  As mentioned, Secretary Mattis reversed course in August 2018.

The Secretary’s initial argument still holds water, and is strengthened by a leaked September 14, 2018 Air Force cost estimate.  The document estimated that the creation of an independent military branch focused on space would cost $13 billion over five years.  According to a September 17, 2018 Defense News article, “Over the next five years, about $2.2 billion will be needed for headquarters elements, $1.8 billion for ‘direct reporting units,’ $7.2 billion for Space Force elements, $595 million for additional personnel to staff the new U.S. Space Command, and a one-time payment of $1 billion to build the new combatant command.”

Crucially, this spending rise will not result in a corresponding increase in capability. 

Secretary Mattis had it right the first time.  The creation of an independent Space Force makes little sense.

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