Bloomberg News reporter Josh Wingrove asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki during Tuesday’s press briefing about the longevity of the Space Force authorized by President Donald Trump in December 2019 — only to receive a mocking response.
“Wow. Space Force. It’s the plane of today!” Psaki scoffed. “It is an interesting question. 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 we have any update on that.”
— Josh Wingrove (@josh_wingrove) February 2, 2021
In August of 2018, Vice President Mike Pence announced the establishment of the eighth branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, the Space Force, in a speech at the Pentagon. This was the first time in 70 years that a new branch would be added, aimed at putting the United States at the forefront of space exploration and strategic imperative.
As noted by the Military Times, Space Force was initiated to be tasked with providing “space expertise to combatant commanders,” as well as to be “composed of personnel from all services, with experts in operations, intelligence, engineering … prepared to deploy teams of space operators to Europe and Pacific by next summer.” Space Force aims to improve upon U.S. counterintelligence as a whole.
It was the technology produced by the Space Force’s 2nd Space Warning Squadron at Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado that saved the lives of Americans from an incoming Iranian missile on Jan. 7, 2020. Luckily, there were only sustained injuries and no fatalities. This is because of an innovative Space-Based Infrared System. Referred to by President Trump as an “early warning system,” the object searches and detects missiles through satellites. The Space Force worked side-by-side with the Department of Defense and successfully deterred against the threat in reaction to the U.S. killing of Qassem Soleimani, utilizing the $20 million Lockheed Martin system.
Republicans in the House Armed Services Committee have requested that Psaki “immediately apologize” for her answer to Wingrove’s question, citing the legitimacy of Space Force. Some members of the House have cited foreign policy concerns, juxtaposing Biden’s perceived lighter stance on China than Trump’s.
“This is just another example of the Biden administration not taking China seriously while demanding the incredible work of Space Force’s personnel,” said Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., one of the founding members of the House Space Force Caucus.
Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., also chimed in, noting his concern with Psaki “blatantly diminish[ing] an entire branch of our military as the punchline of a joke, which I’m sure China would find funny.”
While Psaki’s comments represent a disregard for a Trump-established military branch that has evidently saved lives and expanded the innovation capacity of the U.S. military, Biden has been reported as unlikely to scrap the program.
“If Space Force did not already exist, I think Joe Biden would probably not create it,” David Burbach, professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, told spacenews.com back in Dec. 2020. “However, I think it’s pretty unlikely that Biden would seriously try to eliminate Space Force at this point.”