Pence Details Plan for Creation of Space Force in What Would Be the Sixth Branch of the Military
by Christian Davenport and Dan Lamothe August 9, 2018 (washingtonpost.com)
• On Thursday August 9th, Vice President Pence laid out an ambitious plan to establish a “Space Force” as the sixth branch of the U.S. military as soon as 2020. Pence issued what amounted to a call to arms to preserve the military’s dominance in space. “Just as we’ve done in ages past, the United States will meet the emerging threats on this new battlefield,” Pence said in the Pentagon news conference (see 5:25 minute video below).
• The task of creating a new military department, which would require approval by a reluctant Congress, may require significant new spending and reorganization. The idea of a Space Force is opposed by the Air Force in particular which could lose some of its ‘Space Command’ responsibilities. Deborah James, who served as Air Force secretary in the Obama administration, said Trump’s decision to create a full new department is “a solution in search of a problem.”
• Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said last year that he opposed a new military branch. This week, Mattis said the Pentagon and the White House “are in complete alignment” on the need to view space as a warfighting domain. But he stopped short of endorsing a full-fledged Space Force.
• The first step is to create a new U.S. Space Command led by a four-star general, and pulling space experts from across the armed services. The Pentagon would create an assistant secretary of defense for space, a top-level civilian who will report to the defense secretary “to oversee the growth and expansion of the sixth branch of service.” There would be a separate acquisitions office dedicated to buying satellites and developing new technology. The White House intends to work with lawmakers to introduce legislation by early next year.
• Space is vital to the way the United States wages war. The Pentagon’s satellites are used for missile defense warnings, guiding precision munitions and providing communications and reconnaissance. Russia and China have made significant advancements, challenging the United States’ assets in space.
• Pence said to the military brass attending the press conference, the “commander in chief is going to continue to work tirelessly toward this goal, and we expect you all to do the same.” After the announcement Thursday, members of the House Armed Services Committee Reps. Mike D. Rogers (R-Ala.) and Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) praised the move, saying, “We have been warning for years of the need to protect our space assets and to develop more capable space systems.” President Trump tweeted, “Space Force all the way!”
Vice President Pence laid out an ambitious plan Thursday that would begin creating a military command dedicated to space and establish a “Space Force” as the sixth branch of the U.S. military as soon as 2020, the first since the Air Force was formed shortly after World War II.
Pence warned of the advancements that potential adversaries are making and issued what amounted to a call to arms to preserve the military’s dominance in space.
“Just as we’ve done in ages past, the United States will meet the emerging threats on this new battlefield,” he said in a speech at the Pentagon. “The time has come to establish the United States Space Force.”
But the monumental task of standing up a new military department, which would require approval by a Congress that shelved the idea last year, may require significant new spending and a reorganization of the largest bureaucracy in the world. And the idea has already run into fierce opposition inside and outside the Pentagon, particularly from the Air Force, which could lose some of its responsibilities.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said last year that he opposed a new department of the military “at a time when we are focused on reducing overhead and integrating joint warfighting functions.”
This week, Mattis said the Pentagon and the White House “are in complete alignment” on the need to view space as a warfighting domain. But he stopped short of endorsing a full-fledged Space Force. In a briefing with reporters after Pence’s speech, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan suggested that Mattis’s comments opposing the Space Force were made at a different time, before the Pentagon received a bolstered budget.
White House officials have been working with national security leaders to aggressively move ahead without Congress. The first step is creating a new U.S. Space Command by the end of the year, which would be led by a four-star general, the way the Pentagon’s Indo-Pacific Command oversees those regions.
The new command would pull space experts from across the armed services, and there would be a separate acquisitions office, dedicated to buying satellites and developing new technology to help the military win wars in space.
After the announcement Thursday, President Trump tweeted, “Space Force all the way!”
5:25 minute CNN video of Vice President Pence
announcing the formation of the U.S. Space Force
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