concept art for NASA's shuttle

Pence Announces Plan for Formation of Space Force by 2020

Vice President Mike Pence has announced plans to create a US Space Force by 2020, re-iterating President Donald Trump’s call to create a new combatant branch to deal with America’s extraterrestrial military affairs.

Speaking at a press conference at the Pentagon Pence said:

As OVD has reported previously the formation of a new sixth branch of the military is no simple matter. It must be mandated by Congress, just as the US Air Force was in 1947. The problem facing the Trump administrations plans for a Space Force is that the US legislature looks no nearer to green lighting the President’s new branch.

Pence’s plan, outlined today, will see a a civilian Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space appointed and a new agency to develop and procure relevant technologies, such as satellites, will be established. The press conference came as the Pentagon released a report outlining the first stages of the Trump administrations plan for the new branch.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who in the past has voice concern about the need to form a new service branch, has also stated his support for the idea, telling a press conference on Tuesday,  that “We need to address space as a developing warfighting domain and a combatant command is certainly one thing that we can we can establish. This is a process we’re in.” Mattis continued  “We are in complete alignment with the president’s concern about protecting our assets in space… we’re going to have to address it as other countries show a capability to attack those assets.”

It’s worth noting that Mattis discusses a ‘combatant command’ rather than a new branch, this is because standing up a command is simpler than forming a new branch and is the route the Pentagon see towards forming a Space Force while Congress mulls the idea.

A draft of the Pentagon’s Space Force plan seen by DefenseOne stated that a new Space Command could be established by the end of 2018, to “evaluate the need for any additional personnel, responsibilities and authorities”

The plan also calls for the formation of a Space equivalent of SOCOM, explaining: “Similar to Special Forces personnel provided by all military services, the Space Operations Force will be composed of the space personnel from all Military Services, but developed and managed as one community.” This move would see the unification of assets and personnel from other branches. The new command would also take over procurement of assets such as communications satellites from other branches via a Space Development Agency. The vast majority of the US Military’s satellites are controlled by the US Air Force, the service which currently handles much of what the projected Space Command/Force would deal with.

Acknowledging the work currently done by the Air Force and other branches Vice President Pence said:

“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. Across this department and our intelligence agencies, there are literally tens of thousands of military personnel, civilians and contractors operating and supporting our space systems – and together, they are the eyes and ears of America’s warfighters around the globe.”

Pence conceded that the formation of a new Space Force would “not be a simple process” saying the administration would work with Congress to agree the creation of the specialised force and aim to appropriate funding in the next defense budget.

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