WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will not seek to eliminate the Space Force and roll military space functions back into the Air Force, the White House confirmed Wednesday.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters during a Feb. 3 briefing that the new service has the “full support” of the Biden administration.
“We’re not revisiting the decision,” she said.
The U.S. Space Force has been a notorious and controversial presence in U.S. politics since 2018, when then President Donald Trump make the creation of the new military branch a pet project.
Although the idea of a separate service for space originated in Congress and developed bipartisan support, Trump’s involvement in its establishment— which included his campaign selling Space Force branded merchandise and recommending that his wife, Melania Trump, design the uniforms — made it a pop culture punching bag, as exemplified by the Netflix comedy TV series “Space Force.”
Psaki was asked during a Tuesday press briefing whether the Biden administration would ultimately seek to abolish the new space service, which was formally signed into law in December 2019.
“Wow, Space Force. It’s the plane of today,” she said, referencing previous questions about the Air Force One’s paint job.
“It is an interesting question,” she added. “I am happy to check with our Space Force point of contact. I’m not sure who that is. I will find out and see if they have any update on that.”
Get the Marine Corps Times Daily News Roundup
Don’t miss the top Marine Corps stories, delivered each afternoon
By giving us your email, you are opting in to the Marine Corps Times Daily News Roundup.
Psaki’s response raised the ire of Republicans, including Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., who criticized it as being disrespectful to members of the service and demanded an apology.
Later that night, Psaki tweeted that the Biden administration would continue working with the Space Force, but did not confirm outright that officials would continue to support the new service.
“We look forward to the continuing work of Space Force and invite the members of the team to come visit us in the briefing room anytime to share an update on their important work,” she tweeted.
We look forward to the continuing work of Space Force and invite the members of the team to come visit us in the briefing room anytime to share an update on their important work.
— Jen Psaki (@PressSec) February 3, 2021
Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond told reporters during a Wednesday morning roundtable that he would “welcome the opportunity” to speak to the Biden administration about the ongoing work of the Space Force, which includes tracking debris in space, running the nation’s GPS constellation and managing satellites that provide communications links and help identify ballistic missiles.
“I’m very proud of the guardians in the Space Force,” he said.” I see the value of this force each and every day and I’m happy to talk to anybody about the great work [it’s doing].
For those who have been closely watching the universe of military space , the news of Biden’s support for the Space Force will come as little surprise.
Space experts — including Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Brian Weeden of the Secure World Foundation — told Defense News in January that the Biden administration would likely retain the Space Force.
“At this point we have spent thousands and thousands of hours and years of effort to create this new bureaucracy in the hope that it will address these challenges,” Weeden said. “At this point, we have no choice but to see that through. To now go back and spend even more time undoing all this stuff would be even worse.”
Nathan Strout of C4ISRNet contributed to this report.
About Valerie Insinna
Valerie Insinna is Defense News’ air warfare reporter. She previously worked the Navy/congressional beats for Defense Daily, which followed almost three years as a staff writer for National Defense Magazine. Prior to that, she worked as an editorial assistant for the Tokyo Shimbun’s Washington bureau.