The US is planning to create The Space Force, a new branch of the US military, by 2020, Vice President Mike Pence announced on Thursday.
It would become the US military’s sixth branch, following the Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps.
“America will always seek peace in space, as on the Earth. But history proves that peace only comes through strength, and in the realm of outer space, the United States Space Force will be that strength in the years ahead,” Pence said in an address to the Pentagon.
As we continue to carry American leadership in space, so also will we carry America’s commitment to freedom into this new frontier. pic.twitter.com/gCGYRFofz8
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) August 9, 2018
The new military branch will be responsible for a range of capabilities, including the US-made Global Position System (GPS) and technologies that guide and track missile launches.
US President Donald Trump announced the creation of the Space Force in March, when he called space “a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air, and sea”.
In the months following that announcement, the Pentagon worked on interim steps toward the creation of the new military branch.
Space Force all the way!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 9, 2018
Although Pentagon leaders, including US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, once opposed the idea of a Space Force, they lined up on Thursday to offer their support.
“It is becoming a contested war fighting domain and we have to adapt to that reality,” Mattis said.
China’s space programme is run by the military.
Russia’s space forces control important radar and missile sites and have partial responsibility for locations from which rockets are launched into space.
I am thrilled about the news today. We in the House have been warning for years about the threats to our space assets and the unacceptably slow pace to develop more capable space systems. The report is a step in a multi-year process that will help ensure a safer, stronger America https://t.co/12SwRkaz1c
— Mike Rogers (@RepMikeRogersAL) August 9, 2018
However, critics say the new military branch will compete with the current objectives of the Air Force and increase bureaucracy.
Senator Brian Schatz, member of the Defense Appropriations subcommittee, called the creation of the Space Force “a dumb idea” on Twitter.
The VP just announced a new military branch – a “Space Force,” because no R is willing to tell POTUS it’s a dumb idea. Although “Space Force” won’t happen, it’s dangerous to have a leader who cannot be talked out of crazy ideas. Elect D’s to check POTUS power.
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) August 9, 2018
Senator Bernie Sanders said the US should focus on investing in healthcare, education and the environment instead of “spending billions and billions of dollars” on weapons.
We need to invest in our children, in our elderly, and in healthcare and education and environmental protection. People are sick and tired of spending billions and billions of dollars on nuclear weapons, war planes, missiles, bombs, and tanks.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) August 10, 2018
The Space Force will be part of President Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign.
His team sent an email following the announcement on Thursday asking supporters to vote for their favourite Space Force logo.
In July, Bloomberg Businessweek asked eight leading designers to create a logo and received some ironic responses.
Milton Glaser’s design was a silhouette of Trump’s profile with the word space, in capital letters, between the ears.
“The image represents the relentless intrusion of our president in every aspect of our lives and future. The image can be read as his next conquest or simply that there is very little inside that skull,” he told the magazine.
The United States is a member of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which bars the stationing of weapons of mass destruction in space and only allows for the use of the moon and other celestial bodies for peaceful purposes.