The Trump Administration outlined a plan to make a “Space Force” the sixth branch of the U.S. military Thursday, but there are still significant hurdles before it could become a reality.
In a speech at the Pentagon, Vice President Mike Pence gave the most concrete outline to date of the new branch, noting that it would be created by re-structuring already existing space operations and employees. The Administration’s goal is to establish that branch by 2020.
“Now the time has come to write the next great chapter in the history of our armed forces, to prepare 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 to our nation,” he said. “The time has come to establish the United States Space Force.”
“Space Force all the way!” Donald Trump tweeted shortly after Pence spoke.
The Space Force, however, would still need Congressional approval before any of these plans are set into motion. This would be the first new branch since the Air Force was established in 1947 after World War II. The White House is advocating for Congress to invest an additional $8 billion in space security systems over the next five years.
Pence also announced their intent to set up a new combatant command. The U.S. Space Command would be the 11th combatant command under the Department of Defense. Its creation reflects a strategic military shift to emphasize the defense of U.S. satellite systems that provide the navigation, communication and Earth-observation functions that Americans employ every day.
The Pentagon report said that the military should be “prepared to deploy teams of space experts to the U.S. European Command and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command no later than summer of 2019.”
The initiative will also include the creation of the Space Development Agency, which will help to establish these organizations and a Space Operations Force, which will assemble space “warfighters” and personnel.
In his speech, Pence highlighted aggressive maneuvers in space by countries such as Russia and China. He described…