Symposium hears call for "Space Force" as an equal branch of U.S. Military

Gen. John E. Hyten, commander of the Air Force Space Command, speaks on April 12, 2016 at the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.

A new congressional defense authorization bill creates Space Force as a separate branch of the military that will be based in Colorado Springs. For the Pikes Peak region, early Christmas blessings don’t get better than this.

As explained in a Gazette news story by senior military editor Tom Roeder, the bill “redesignates Air Force Space Command in Colorado Springs as the Space Force, a new armed-service branch responsible for America’s military efforts in space and defense of satellites.”

With this development, Colorado Springs becomes the country’s indisputable hub of America’s military space operations.

The bill allocates $322 million for construction at area military bases, including a project that could keep Space Command here permanently to work geographically alongside Space Force for generations.

Congratulations to U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, and other community, business and political leaders who worked hard to make this happen. Only last month, Lamborn spoke with President Donald Trump about the benefits of permanently consolidating the Pentagon’s space operations in Colorado Springs.

Space Force, and its approximate 15,000 troops, belongs here. While it will be good for our community, the greater consideration is the benefit this decision poses for our national defense.

Space Force likely will count on the Springs-based Air Force Academy to produce most of its officers. The branch will gain additional synergy from its vicinity to Schriever Air Force Base, Peterson Air Force Base, U.S. Northern Command, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Air Force Space Command, the Space Foundation and the National Cybersecurity Center. Those and other organizations make Colorado Springs the pole star of defensive space operations.

Space Force is the vision of Trump, who wisely expresses concern about the United States growing increasingly vulnerable to advances in space by America’s enemies. The White House expressed enthusiasm for the bill, titled the National Defense Authorization Act, in an email to The Gazette on Tuesday.

“The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act advances many of President Donald J. Trump’s priorities, including a 3.1-percent pay raise for our troops, providing up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave for Federal employees, ensuring survivors of deceased service members receive the benefits they deserve, and establishing the United States Space Force, fulfilling the president’s promise to maintain America’s leadership in space,” White House communications personnel said.

Multiple elements of the bill combine to make Colorado Springs the biggest winner of them all, Lamborn said.

The bill spends $148 million for a space operations center to help Space Command at Schriever. It allots $71 million for a new brigade at Fort Carson; $54 million for Northern Command’s special operations contingent at Peterson; and $49 million for preparatory school dormitories at the Air Force Academy.

U.S. Space Command oversees the space operations of military branches and will oversee Space Force. Although the Pentagon could separate Space Command and Space Force, Lamborn said the bill reduces the odds of the Pentagon moving Space Command from Colorado Springs.

Let’s hope he is right. Moving Space Command out of Colorado Springs, where the government has established most of its military space operations — including the only new military branch since the Air Force in 1947 — would make no sense from a tactical perspective. It would weaken space military coordination and therefore our national defense. It would serve nothing other than political ends.

Colorado’s political leaders, including the nine-member congressional delegation, deserve accolades for these positive outcomes for Colorado and Colorado Springs. Going forward, they should remain diligent and ensure these plans unfold as expected.

Colorado Springs is the future of our country’s military space operations. Space is the future of Colorado Springs.

The Gazette Editorial Board

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