Washington, D.C., USA : Vice President Mike Pence today announced plans for a new, separate U.S. Space Force as sixth military service by 2020
Pence says it’s needed to ensure America’s dominance in space amid heightened completion and threats from China and Russia. He says that while space was once peaceful and uncontested, it is now crowded and adversarial.
President Donald Trump has called for a “separate but equal” space force. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has endorsed plans to reorganize the military’s space warfighting forces and create a new command, but has previously opposed launching an expensive separate new service.
Trump’s surprise announcement caught Pentagon officials and members of Congress off guard. The Defense Department already has several major programs in the works and the Air Force has contended that a new branch was not necessary for space defense.
Jim Inhofe, a Republican Senator and the number two at the Senate Committee on Armed Services, has openly rebuked the suggestion of creating a Space Force as a new branch of the military. “I know the president has strong feelings. I think we can do that without a new branch,” he told media early this month.
Senator Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat who once took part in a space shuttle mission, tweeted: “generals tell me they don’t want” it and “now is NOT the time to rip the Air Force apart.”
Some 60 different agencies within the defense establishment play roles in space-related work, said Todd Harrison, director of the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. That may slow the realization of Trump’s goal. “This isn’t going to happen quickly.” Harrison said.
The Pentagon is responding to Trump’s directive. “Our policy board will begin working on this issue, which has implications for intelligence operations for the Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy,” said Army Lieutenant Colonel Jamie Davis, a Defense Department spokesman. “Working with Congress, this will be a deliberate process with a great deal of input from multiple stakeholders.”
Any proposal to create a new service would require congressional action.
In the meantime, White House officials have been working with national security leaders to aggressively move ahead without Congress. The first step would be to create a U.S. Space Command by the end of the year, a new combatant command that would have dedicated resources, be led by a four-star general, and be tasked with defending space, the way the Pentagon’s Pacific Command oversees the ocean.
The Pentagon will also begin pulling space experts from across the military and setting up a separate acquisitions office, dedicated to buying satellites and developing new technology to help it win wars in space.
Here are excerpts from Mike Pence speech which he also tweeted:
“.@POTUS Trump is committed to preparing for the next battlefield where America’s best and bravest will be called to deter and defeat a new generation of threats to our people and our nation… The time has come to establish the United States #SpaceForce.
.@POTUS’ highest priority is the safety & security of the American people. And while too often previous administrations all but neglected the growing security threats emerging in space, @POTUS stated clearly that space is “a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air & sea.”
Just as in the past – when we created the Air Force – establishing a Space Force is an idea whose time has come. The space environment has fundamentally changed in the last generation. What was once peaceful and uncontested is now crowded and adversarial.
America will always seek peace, in space as on the Earth. But history proves that peace only comes through strength. And in the realm of outer space, the United States Space Force will be that strength.
The report that the Department of Defense will release today represents a critical step toward establishing the Space Force as the sixth branch of our Armed Forces. It identifies four actions that we will take to evolve our space capabilities.
Our administration will soon take action to implement these recommendations, with the objective of establishing the United States Department of the Space Force by 2020.
The next generation of Americans to confront the emerging threats in the boundless expanse of space will be wearing the uniform of the United States of America.
As we continue to carry American leadership in space, so also will we carry America’s commitment to freedom into this new frontier.”
In response to the speech, Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) and Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), members of the House Armed Services Committee, praised the move, saying a Space Force “will result in a safer, stronger America.”
“We have been warning for years of the need to protect our space assets and to develop more capable space systems,” they said in a joint statement.
For years, some members of Congress and military leaders have been warning that space is no longer a peaceful sanctuary, but a warfighting domain that needs more attention and resources. Space is vital to the way the United States wages war; The Pentagon’s satellites are used for missile-defense warnings, guiding precision munitions, and providing communications and reconnaissance.
“Space Force all the way!” – Trump tweeted in response to Mike Pence speech.