Here Comes the Space Force? Mike Pence Outlines Steps To Create 6th Branch of the Military

The Trump Administration has been pushing for a Space Force, and we just learned a little more about what that would look like.

image
Wh.gov

The Trump Administration has been pushing for the creation of a sixth branch of the military to focus solely on U.S. dominance of space. Today, Vice President Mike Pence outlined some of the concrete steps needed to create the United States Space Force. “We must have American dominance in space, and so we will,” Pence said.

The Pentagon report establishes a new command structure led by a four-star flag officer and a single civilian position to oversee the command. The person is not quite a secretary, but the position will evolve into that role.

Pence promised the “creation of elite joint warfighters specializing in domain of space.” The Space Operations Force will be vaguely modeled on America's Special Operations Command, bringing in personnel from all branches. There also will be a Space Development Agency to streamline hardware procurement and innovation, as well as to cut bureaucracy and red tape.

The entire Space Force concept is a reaction to new threats to America's satellites and other assets in orbit. Russian and Chinese engineers have tested ground-based missiles and lasers meant to damage or scramble U.S. guidance, communications, and spy sats. Navigation signals can be jammed, blinding precision weapons, infantry, and vehicles.

Russian and Chinese sats have performed orbital maneuvers that could be used in offensive operations, Pence said. He noted that those nations are testing intercontinental hypersonic weapons that current surveillance systems cannot spot.

The House Armed Services Committee last year attempted but failed to establish in the annual defense policy bill a separate space corps within the Air Force. Trump officially directed the Pentagon to create a space force in June. The administration says it is already working with politicians as it seeks future funding for the command.

Civilian and government analysts agree that the U.S. defenses are not keeping up with the new threats, but are divided on the wisdom of creating a new branch of the military to deal with them.

“We must have American dominance in space, and so we will”

Pence compared the Space Force to the creation of the Air Force as an independent branch of the Armed Forces after the lessons of World War II, when the Army Air Force faced waves of German airplanes. That generation “took action to meet that threat head on,” the VP said.

That comparison is ironic considering the reluctance of the Air Force to give up its domain over space. The Air Force, which runs most of America's space-related defense activities, is strongly opposed to the Space Force. The Space Force “won’t be built from scratch,” Pence acknowledged.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
More From Satellites