Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

Trump's official Space Force logo bears a striking resemblance to the Star Trek logo. (Photo: via CNN)

Trump's official Space Force logo bears a striking resemblance to the Star Trek logo. (Photo: via CNN)

Will the Space Force take the Pentagon Budget to Infinity and Beyond?

While the Space Force represents just a small sliver of the Pentagon budget, it is in many ways the poster child for a Pentagon that knows no bounds, either budgetarily or physically.

The first days of the Biden administration brought a deeply welcome spate of reversals of Trump policies, ranging from the reversal of the racist Muslim immigration ban to the nixing of the Keystone XL pipeline. But on one huge front, the Biden administration has yet to signal any major breaks from Trump’s legacy: the vast overreach of the Pentagon.

During the Trump years, the Pentagon budget grew nearly seven percent, or nearly $50 billion, in inflation-adjusted terms, and the military gained its first new service since the Air Force in 1947. That service, the Space Force, happened to meet the former president’s requirement for TV-ready policy, but its goofy origins aren’t any guarantee that the new administration will send it packing.

In sheer dollar terms, the Space Force represents just a small sliver of the Pentagon’s budget at $15 billion in 2021, but it is in many ways the poster child for a Pentagon that knows no bounds, either budgetarily or physically. The force has been controversial from the start, and while some of its functions would have existed even without a whole new military branch, the most lurid dreams for the Space Force veer into Star Wars territory with names like “orbital warfare.”

The U.S. Pentagon is great at getting bigger and going farther. It is still ensnared in its longest war ever in Afghanistan. The U.S. military presence spans the Earth with more than 800 military installations and more than a quarter of a million troops stationed abroad at any given time. The Pentagon budget is now higher than at the height of the Vietnam War or Cold War. And now there’s the Space Force. 

To be sure, many of the most damaging Pentagon policies predate Trump, but the end of his era of bluster and profligate spending, combined with multiple other crises at home, still presents a chance for a fresh start. The Pentagon may be reaching for infinity (and beyond), but the Biden administration should pull back both the Space Force, and the rest of the Pentagon, well before we get there.


Copyright © 2021 National Priorities Project / Institute for Policy Studies
Lindsay Koshgarian

Lindsay Koshgarian

Lindsay Koshgarian directs the National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'A Slap in the Face to Voters': Kansas Supreme Court Upholds GOP Map

"This case is only one skirmish in the wholesale assault on democracy in Kansas and around the country," said the head of the state's ACLU.

Jessica Corbett ·


Ahead of House Vote, Analysis Details How Big Oil Price Gouging Rewards Wall Street

"Congress has a narrow window of opportunity to stop profiteering at the pump and secure a more stable, sustainable future for all. It's time to act—before it's too late."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Major Milestone' as Rhode Island Expands Voting Rights

A newly passed measure was praised as "a huge step forward in improving and modernizing voting in the Ocean State."

Andrea Germanos ·


PA Primary Is Too Close to Call, But Trump Says 'Dr. Oz Should Declare Victory' Anyway

"This is why we keep saying Trump is a clear and present danger to democracy."

Kenny Stancil ·


'Entirely Reckless': Critics Blast EU Plan to Boost Gas Infrastructure

"Deepening its own dependence on volatile fossil fuels" in response to Russia's attack on Ukraine, said one campaigner, "is the last thing Europe should be doing."

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo