US President’s Donald Trump’s military ‘Space Force’ could be operational by 2020 as the US prepares to face the “next battlefield”.
Vice President Mike Pence announced plans for a new, sixth arm of the US military Friday morning (AEST), saying the service was needed to ensure America’s dominance in space amid heightened threats from China and Russia.
If the plan secures congressional approval, it would be the first new branch of the US military since the US Air Force was established in 1947.
Speaking at the Pentagon, Mr Pence said the plan fulfils the President’s vow to ensure America’s dominance in space – a domain that was once peaceful and uncontested, that has now become crowded and adversarial.
“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, to our nation,” he said.
“The time has come to establish the United States Space Force.”
Mr Trump has repeatedly asserted that the US must create a space force and reaffirmed his commitment in a tweet after Mr Pence’s announcement.
Space Force all the way!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 9, 2018
A Pentagon proposal delivered to Congress on Friday morning included plans to consolidate the Pentagon’s war-fighting space forces and make organisational changes to boost the acquisition and development of leading edge technologies.
Mr Pence said members of the Space Force would initially be drawn from other arms of the military.
“To be clear, the Space Force will not be built from scratch, because the men and women who run and protect our nation’s space programs today are already the best in the world,” he said.
“Since the dawn of the space age, America has remained the best in space.”
The Pentagon’s role in space has been under scrutiny because of a recognition that the United States is increasingly reliant on satellites that are difficult to protect in space.
Satellites provide communications, navigation, intelligence and other services vital to the military and the economy.
American Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has endorsed plans to reorganise the military’s space fighting forces and create a new command, but has previously opposed launching an expensive separate new service.
Any proposal to create a new service would require congressional action.