Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Pence: Space Force Will Be Independent Service by 2020, Include Elite Operators

Kat Wade  Getty Images North America Kat Wade Getty Images North America
Kenny Thornton | 09 August, 2018, 23:41

"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.

On June 18, Trump showed that he was serious about the Space Force by formally directing the Pentagon to create the new military branch.

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

Space warfare capabilities are now overseen by the US Air Force. "We must have American dominance in space".

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.

"By 1945, the American military had almost 30 times the number of planes and 85 times the number of pilots and support crews compared to just six years earlier", he said.

Mr. Pence's widely anticipated speech Thursday - coupled with supportive comments earlier this week from Defense Secretary James Mattis - are part of an effort to present a united front and to demonstrate that there's no daylight between the military and the political leadership in the White House. Currently, a three-star Space Command falls under the Air Force, headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado responsible for 30,000 personnel worldwide.

Mattis had previously opposed the creation of a separate military branch focused on space, writing to Rep. Mike Turner of OH in July of 2017 that he did "not wish to add a separate service that would likely present a narrower and even parochial approach to space operations".

But he, too, isn't convinced that a Space Force is the answer.

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Sen. Bill Nelson is among the lawmakers opposed to the idea. "It's risky to have a leader who can not be talked out of insane ideas".

Trump's Space Force plan would go even further, creating a new branch with both a new member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a political appointee serving as a service secretary.

On Thursday, Mattis said "space is one of our vital national interests" and is "no longer a new domain".

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.

The Pentagon sent a report to Congress on Tuesday detailing steps towards meeting Trump's order. The Air Force now oversees some of the most critical space-based capabilities.

The Trump administration aims to have the Space Force up and running by 2020, Pence said. At that point, the subject of a service branch for space had already been the subject of hot debate within the military and Congress. Leaders of the Air Force, which now owns existing military operations regarding space, have argued that the service does not have the resources to support a separate space service.

The defense chief's recent remarks represent a clear change of heart from just a year ago, when Mr. Mattis in a letter to Congress expressed doubt about the wisdom of a separate military branch to fight in space.

"There will be no Millennium Falcon, no Jedis or Wookiees we are sad to report", the Fox News host said.

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