Rogers Claims Independent Space Corps A “Win-Win” for the Air Force

Maj. Gregory Stewart, 22nd Space Operations Squadron mission commander, oversees the Air Force Satellite Control Network antennas from all over the world to ensure they are operating efficiently and providing support to the users at Schriever AFB, Colo., April 5, 2017. Rep. Mike Rogers wants to create a separate Space Corps with it's own Chief of Staff. Air Force photo by TSgt. Julius Delos Reyes.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) is again pressing his case for an independent Space Corps, saying the move is needed to ensure the domain can get the attention and funding it needs and that it would be a win for the Air Force, too.

Rogers, the chairman of the House strategic forces subcommittee, said during an AFA Mitchell Institute event Tuesday in Washington, D.C., that an independent Space Corps is a “win-win” for the Air Force because it frees the service up to focus on issues such as the pilot shortage and aircraft readiness, and makes air dominance its main priority.

The Air Force has repeatedly blasted Rogers’ proposal, with Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein saying in May that a large organizational change would slow the military down as it makes a “strategic shift” toward treating space as a war-fighting domain. In addition, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis have sent letters to lawmakers urging them to not adopt the push for the Space Corps.

The House’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act passed with Rogers’ amendment to create an independent Space Corps. The move would go into effect in 2019, and gives the military six months to determine what the new service would look like. The Chief of Staff of the new service would sit on the Joint Chiefs of Staff and focus on space dominance, Rogers said. However, a similar provision was not included in the Senate version of the authorization bill.

Rogers contends the current model, with space war fighting under the Air Force, is not effective because although the Air Force gets 90 percent of the budget for military space, the service has to focus on 12 other core functions. Rogers noted Tuesday that space research and development is at a 30-year low.

The service has already made changes to address concerns raised by Rogers, including creating a new deputy chief of staff for space and calling for a 20 percent increase in space funding in the 2018 budget. (See also: The Space Corps Question from the October issue of Air Force Magazine.)