VP Pence Unveils Plans For New Military Branch In Outer Space

Military spacecraft like the Air Force's X-37B space plane could be transferred to the proposed Space Force.                  Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

Vice President Mike Pence today unveiled details of plans to create such a force that would become the sixth branch of America's military, saying the "time has come" to prepare for "the next battlefield".

Their remarks were timed to coincide with the release of a Pentagon report outlining the steps needed to create a Space Force, something it does not have the power to do on its own.

In a speech at the Pentagon, Pence said that recent advances by rivals including China and Russian Federation necessitate the creation of a military force focused exclusively on space. It is the Presidents opinion that that it requires a new military branch. The U.S. military is big in space, but it's all unmanned satellites. It's no longer a new domain, it's a domain and we've got to be able to compete, to deter and to win.

Pence said the force "will not be built from scratch", but will tap existing space program personnel. Congress would have to approve any plan to make the Space Force a new branch.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has also seemed apprehensive about the idea.

Much of the military's current space power is wielded by the Air Force Space Command, which has its headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The Space Force would be responsible for a range of crucial space-based U.S. military capabilities, which include everything from satellites enabling the Global Positioning System (GPS) to sensors that help track missile launches.


Given the stakes about building a new branch of the military, the issue is likely to be a political football.

In every domain, America will always seek peace, the vice president said. In May, Trump was instructed to set up a space force that would be independent of the aviation force.

More recently, Mattis expressed support for establishing a new combatant command for space.

"This new command ... will establish unified command and control for our Space Force operations, ensure integration across the military, and develop the space warfighting doctrine, tactics, techniques, and procedures of the future", he said. The U.S. will meet the emerging threats on this new battlefield, he said, and carry on the cause of liberty and peace into the next great frontier. Republican US Representative Mike Rogers, a member of the US House Armed Services Committee, said the move would bolster national security.

The vast United States military divides the globe into various commands, such as Central Command in the Middle East or Indo-Pacific Command in Asia, and so a new Space Command would be on an equal footing with these. A full-fledged space force would cost significantly more, but no one knows how much yet.

The president s re-election team trumpeted the proposal, asking supporters to help select Space Force s new official logo - to go on merchandise sold by his campaign.

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