Trump administration tout groundwork for future 'space force'

Susan Walsh  AP

Susan Walsh AP

One of the arguments in favor of devoting more resources to a Space Force or Space Command is that American rivals like Russian Federation and China appear increasingly ready to strike USA space-based capabilities in the event of a conflict.

"We need to address space as a developing, war-fighting domain and a combatant command is certainly one thing that we can establish", he said.

In just two years the USA plans to have a new military programme geared towards space. If Congress gives the green light to Space Force, the sixth branch of the military could officially be formed as early as 2020.

"As POTUS Trump has stated clearly and forcefully, space is a 'war-fighting domain, just like the land, air, and sea", the tweet read.

The Department of Defense is expected to release a report later today "outlining the first stages of our administration's plan to implement the president's guidance and turn his vision into a reality", Pence said.

"A sixth branch of the United States military to support America's objectives in orbit". In a joint statement, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) and Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), respectively chairman and ranking member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces said, "We have been warning for years of the need to protect our space assets and to develop more capable space systems".

THE PLAN. According to Pence, the report includes the first four actions the administration will take to establish the Space Force.

"Recently, our advisories have been working to bring new weapons of war into space itself".

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The Space Force would be responsible for a range of crucial space-based US military capabilities, which include everything from satellites enabling the Global Positioning System (GPS) to sensors that help track missile launches. The Space Force would initially be led by a civilian who would report directly to the Secretary of Defense, Pence said.

He warned about developments made by Russian Federation and China claiming that "hypersonic" weapons were nearly a reality. The Air Force in particular might lose key responsibilities.

Pence pointed to Russia's development of airborne lasers to disrupt space-based systems and China's successful demonstration of how a missile can track and destroy satellites. Supporters at some recent campaign events have also broken out in "Space Force" chants at the mention of the concept.

"America will always seek peace, in space as on earth", Pence said. "The time has come to establish the United States Space Force".

Given the stakes surrounding building a new branch of the military, the issue is likely to be a political football. The change, which would require approval from Congress, would be a dramatic change in the organization of the Defense Department.

The US is a member of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, a document which represents the basic legal framework of global space law.

"Peace only comes through strength", Pence said.

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