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Pence outlines plan for new Space Force by 2020

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Updated August 09, 2018 11:46 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence has announced plans for a new, separate U.S. Space Force as sixth military service by 2020

Pence says it's needed to ensure America's dominance in space amid heightened competition and threats from China and Russia. He says that while space was once peaceful and uncontested, it is now crowded and adversarial.

President Donald Trump has called for a "separate but equal" space force. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has endorsed plans to reorganize the military's space warfighting forces and create a new command, but has previously opposed launching an expensive separate new service.

Any proposal to create a new service would require congressional action.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump wants a Space Force, a new military service he says is needed to ensure American dominance in space. Despite the president's defense chief, Jim Mattis, saying that it would add burdensome bureaucracy and unwanted costs, Vice President Mike Pence is set to announce the president's plan for the new branch of the military on Thursday. The Pentagon is also expected to release a congressionally mandated report on the subject.

The Pentagon was initially resistant to the idea of a "Space Force" despite acknowledging a need to revamp its much-criticized approach to defending U.S. economic and security interests in space. However, it's unclear whether this will satisfy Trump, who wants to go even further by creating a separate military space service. It would be the first new branch of the military in more than 70 years.

Mattis, who said prior to Trump's "Space Force" announcement in June that he opposes creating a new branch of the military for space, said afterward that this would require "a lot of detailed planning."

Aside from the organizational issues, the Pentagon's role in space is under scrutiny because of a recognition that the United States is increasingly reliant on satellites that are difficult to protect in space. Satellites provide communications, navigation, intelligence and other services vital to the military and the economy. Whereas space has long been America's technological edge, it is increasingly seen as its Achilles' heel.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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