Former AF secretary: Air Force missions would get ‘totally lost’ if Space Force created

Former U.S. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James — Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Former U.S. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James — Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Deborah James, who served as Air Force secretary for the final three years of the Obama administration, estimated it would be five to 10 years before a separate Space Force service branch would be fully formed, the Associated Press reported.

James says that space is a frontier that needs more military resources, but not a new service.

ExploreJames said airmen and civilians who work in Air Force space missions "will get totally lost in the bureaucracy" of a new military branch.

Experts told our military affairs reporter Max Filby that Space Force could have an impact on the National Air and Space Intelligence Center headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

RELATED: Space Force proposal could impact Wright-Patt's NASIC

"Eventually, it'll settle out, but you will go through years of thrashing. And is that thrashing going to slow your momentum or is it going to help you achieve your goals and address the real challenges that we have on our plate?" James said at Brookings Institution last month. "I don't think so. I don't. I wouldn't vote in favor of it."

James told MSNBC that she thinks Space Force will have a hard time getting through Congress.

"I think it does have some support in the House of Representatives," James said in an interview on MSNBC, but "I think the Senate will question it very strongly."

At Brookings, James said Pentagon leaders also don't support the idea of adding a Space Force.

“None of them are in favor of a Space Force, I say none of the top leaders, but they’re stuck. The President has said it and it will be interesting to see how they now deal with it,” she said.

Lolita Baldor of the Associated Press reports that Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ opinion on Space Force has changed.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has endorsed steps to reorganize the military's space-warfighting forces and create a new command, but he previously opposed launching an expensive new service. A new branch of the military would require layers of bureaucracy, military and civilian leaders, uniforms, equipment and an expansive support structure.

Asked about the cost, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters the Pentagon doesn't have a number yet but will when the legislative proposal is finished by the end of the year.

In announcing plans to launch Space Force by 2020, Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday called it the “next great chapter” for the military.

“Now the time has come to write the next great chapter in the history of our armed forces, to prepare for the next battlefield where America’s best and bravest will be called to deter and defeat a new generation of threats to our people, to our nation,” Pence said.

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