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"Three hundred and twelve operational squadrons is not enough," said the Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson on Monday, saying she wants 70 additional squadrons. "It takes all of us to get that combat power ready and able to fight. A fist is nothing without the weight of the body behind it." (Photo: US Air Force/Twitter)

Trump's Space Force Would Cost $13 Billion and the Air Force Wants 70 New Squadrons, But 'How You Gonna Pay For It?'

When Medicare for All and paid family leave are called "pie in the sky," but the Air Force says its current fleet of 312 squadrons—which cost many billions each—"is not enough"

Jon Queally

When it comes to progressive proposals aimed at social well-being, the associated costs are always the first explanation for why such efforts are either unrealistic "pie in the sky".

Medicare for All. But how you gonna pay for it?

Tuition-free public college. But how you gonna pay for it?

Paid family leave and sick leave. But how you gonna pay for it?

The urgently-needed rapid and just transition to 100 percent renewable energy? But how you gonna pay for it?

Meanwhile, news outlets reported Tuesday that President Donald Trump's so-called "Space Force"—if approved—would require $13 billion in funding over its first five years alone and word from the U.S. Air Force on Monday was that it wants to acquire an additional 70 squadrons—which would include scores of new aircraft—in the coming years. 

According to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, her branch of the military intends to grow its fighting force by nearly 25 percent in the coming years. That would include:

  • 5 additional bomber squadrons

  • 7 more fighter squadrons

  • 7 additional space squadrons

  • 14 more tanker squadrons

  • 7 special operations squadrons

  • 9 nine combat search-and-rescue squadrons

  • 22 squadrons that conduct command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance

  • 2 remotely piloted aircraft squadrons

  • 1 more airlift squadron

In her comments to attendees at the annual Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference outside Washington, D.C. on Monday, Wilson said that while the Air Force already has 312 active squadrons operating around the globe, the U.S. empire would be more powerful and effective if they havd more. "Three hundred and twelve operational squadrons is not enough," she said. "It takes all of us to get that combat power ready and able to fight. A fist is nothing without the weight of the body behind it."

Wilson added that the Air Force was not "naive" about the scale of their ambition and characterized the decision to expand as "a choice" they were making.

"Right now the Air Force spends about $53 [billion] per year on aircraft operations, training, and recruiting," tweeted Todd Harrison, director of the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, during Wilson's speech. "Increasing the number of squadrons by [roughly] 24 [percent] would probably add another $13 [billion] per year in these operating costs." 

Strikingly, $13 billion was the same name figure, according to the Associated Press, that the Pentagon believes the Space Force program will need to get off the ground.

"The memo says the first-year cost of a Space Force would be $3.3 billion," AP reports, "and the cost over five years would be an estimated $12.9 billion."

As Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic congressional candidate from New York, tweeted last month:

 That this remains the pattern is not news. And yet, it's worth repeating.

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