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​Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on July 18, 2017, during his confirmation hearing for a second two-year term in the same position. Screenshot photo.

—Wilson Brissett

A new Space Corps would complicate the command and control of US satellite constellations and waste resources, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff USAF Gen. Paul Selva told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday morning.

“I do not believe now is the right time to have a discussion” on the formation of a separate space force, he said at his confirmation hearing for a second two-year term in his current position.

On Friday, the House approved its version of the National Defense Authorization Act, which contains a provision, championed by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), to form a separate Space Corps within the Department of the Air Force. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein have all made clear their opposition to the plan.

Selva said the US military can improve defense of its space assets without a Space Corps, and that it has already taken two steps to do so. First, the Department of Defense created the National Space Defense Center at Schriever AFB, Colo., which is “a single command and control center” that allows space professionals “to operate the entire constellation.”

Second, Selva said that “just in the last few months,” US Strategic Command has given the commander of Air Force Space Command the “responsibility to manage the entire constellation, vice trying to manage it through components of his own headquarters.” Selva said the DOD needs to give the STRATCOM realignment “time to let that play out and see if we can get some efficiencies out of it.”

He also said the department needs to “continue to vest in the Secretary of the Air Force the acquisition authority” for space programs. Moving ahead with these efforts, Selva said, is preferable to devoting “leadership and infrastructure” to establish a new Space Corps.