In September of this year, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson provided the federal government, and the press, with a report outlining the Air Force’s cost projection for standing up a new branch of the U.S. Armed Forces dedicated specifically to space and orbital defense. According to the report, this new Trump directive would cost the taxpayers something in the realm of $13 billion — a figure that was then run in headlines across the globe to show the massive scope of the president’s controversial decision.
But within days, defense experts outside of the Air Force began questioning the validity of the report Wilson touted in multiple interviews and media appearances. In fact, some of the numbers seemed downright fishy.
“I don’t think there’s a lot to this process. The methodology is not very sophisticated. They’re giving no indication of where they got the numbers from,” said Todd Harrison, director of the defense budget analysis arm of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “I don’t give this a lot of credibility.”
Among the glaring issues in Heather Wilson’s report were significantly exaggerated numbers regarding the number of troops the Space Force would need, large construction projects that aren’t in keeping with any current plans, and perhaps most notably, the assumption that every service member within the Space Force will receive an average salary of $175,000 per year. That figure, of course, represents a massive increase over the force-wide average of $30-60,000 per year.