WASHINGTON — A House Armed Services Committee subpanel plans to create a new "Space Corps" within the U.S. Air Force so the military can better answer threats in space.

The move comes in the Strategic Forces Subcommittee's section of the annual defense policy bill. A summary was released Tuesday.

"There is bipartisan acknowledgement that the strategic advantages we derive from our national security space systems are eroding," the subpanel's Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., and ranking member Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., said in a joint statement. "We are convinced that the Department of Defense is unable to take the measures necessary to address these challenges effectively and decisively, or even recognize the nature and scale of its problems. Thus, Congress has to step in."

The Space Corps would be a separate military service responsible for national security space programs for which the Air Force currently is responsible. The Space Corps would also be a new subunified command within U.S. Strategic Command, elevating the space mission to a four-star command.

"We view this as a first, but critical step, to fixing the National Security Space enterprise," the lawmakers said.

The subpanel is set to mark up and vote to advance its section of the bill to the full committee on Thursday. The HASC is set to mark up its version of the bill next week.

The measure comes a week after the new Air Force secretary, Heather Wilson, announced the service will create a new three-star billet as deputy chief of staff for space operations. After the Air Force first announced the move in April, Rogers and Cooper said it was too timid.

"We appreciate the Air Force taking steps to place more attention on national security space; however the solution will not be to create additional organizational layers on the Air Staff and cannot be confined to a fix within the Air Force," they said then in a joint statement, according to Space News.

Email:  jgould@defensenews.com        

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Joe Gould was the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He had previously served as Congress reporter.

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