President Donald Trump’s enthusiasm for a new military branch focused on space is apparently not widely shared. Two polls released today show that a majority—and in one poll, a plurality—of respondents said that the Space Force is a bad idea.
The Trump administration plans to cleave Space Force from the Air Force and have it largely in place by 2020.
The Space Force plan has been widely derided, though some members of Congress have previously voiced support for creating a space-focused branch. Concerns about anti-satellite technology being developed by Russia and China—and the perception that the Air Force is not focused enough on the space portion of its mission, which is under the Air Force Space Command—have driven some support for creation of a separate force. There have been similar discussions about creating a US cyber force as well, though those discussions have gotten significant pushback from the service branches.
In a poll conducted by CNN and SSRS on a broad range of policy issues, 37 percent of respondents said that the US should create a Space Force, while 55 percent said that the US should not. The CNN/SSRS poll was based on a sample of 1,002 Americans reached by phone.
An Economist/YouGov poll of 19,487 US adults worded the question a little differently and found that only 29 percent of responding Americans thought the Space Force was a good idea; 42 percent thought it was a bad idea, while 29 percent were on the fence or expressed some other opinion.
Either way, the polls signal broad ambivalence at best about creating a new military service. The Defense Department had categorically resisted the idea of a Space Force prior to Trump’s announcement of his decision in June—but according to recent statements by Defense officials, this was largely because of budgetary concerns. In a statement to reporters while flying to Brazil on August 12, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said, “I was not against setting up a Space Force. What I was against is rushing to do that before we define those problems.”