VP Pence Rallies Support for US Space Force

Geraldine Edwards
August 10, 2018

Any proposal to create a new service would require congressional action.

Vice President Pence described the White House's plans for a Space Force, a sixth branch of the US military that would be responsible for operations in outer space, in a speech on Thursday.

A Space Force, he added, "will meet the emerging threats on this new battlefield with American ingenuity and strength to defend our nation, protect our people and carry the cause of liberty and peace into the next great American frontier".

"President Trump wants a SPACE FORCE - a groundbreaking endeavor for the future of America and the final frontier", read an email from the Trump campaign.

The U.S. already has a space-based military footprint.

In June, the president directed the Pentagon to create a "separate but equal" space force, a complicated and expensive move that could take years to gain Congress' approval and become operational.

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Pence outlined a Pentagon report, led by Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, that will be delivered to Congress on Thursday, that details what the department can do unilaterally to implement the president's desire for a space force.

Critics argue that Trump's Space Force would be stepping on the toes of the U.S. Air Force Space Command, which now oversees the nation's military operations in space. But the Air Force's growth took place while it was still the Army Air Corps; its current status was only granted afterward.

"Creating a new branch of the military is not a simple process".

The Pentagon report, however, recommended that the unified command be in the hands of the Air Force for now.

Last year, he said in a memo to Sen.

"Eventually, it'll settle out, but you will go through years of thrashing. Success will demand the best of each of you", he said. "I don't think so". Satellites provide communications, navigation, intelligence and other services vital to the military and the national economy.

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"For many years, nations from Russian Federation and China to North Korea and Iran have pursued weapons to jam, blind and disable our navigation and communications satellites via electronic attacks from the ground", Pence said. Initially an assistant secretary of defense for space, this position will be "key to the critical transition to a fully indecent Secretary of the Space Force in the years ahead", said Pence. The Special Operations Command, by contrast, hasn't achieved the same status as that intended for space force.

Mr Pence cited the threat of China and Russian Federation as a basis for establishing the new military branch, claiming both Beijing and Moscow are "aggressively" developing anti-satellite capabilities.

THE GOAL. According to Pence, "It is not enough to have an American presence in space".

He laid out what the USA perceived as threats from Moscow and Beijing in particular, who are developing new weapons for use in space as well as improving their ability to counter existing systems, such as GPS.

Thursday's announcement coincided with a report detailed by the Pentagon on how the newest branch of the United States military is set to work.

The Air Force, the newest of the armed services dating to 1947, has the largest stake in space. Most of the satellites are operated by the Air Force, which is likely to see a decrease in responsibilities after the proposed reorganization.

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