WASHINGTON (Circa) — The Trump administration is serious about creating a Space Force, so much so that it plans to have it established by 2020.
Vice President Mike Pence joined Secretary of Defense James Mattis at the Pentagon on Thursday to announce the next steps toward creating what would be first new military branch in more than 70 years. President Donald Trump directed Mattis to conduct a seven-week Defense Department review of the military's space policies in June. A report was released after the announcement.
"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," said Pence on Thursday while speaking at the Pentagon. "The time has come to establish the United States Space Force."
Establishing the force by 2020 will take more than just a presidential directive. First, Trump will have to convince Congress to accept the idea in order to make sure the Space Force is funded. Fortunately for the administration, it has two allies in the House who have already broken ground on the idea. Republican Rep. Mike Rogers and Democrat Rep. Jim Cooper are vocal proponents of the idea, and both sit on the House Armed Services Committee.
Trump will also have to manage the Pentagon bureaucracy. Major changes in the military can take years to implement. The administration will have to determine where the Space Force's domain will begin and end, define its responsibilities, and what tasks it may take over from existing branches. The Air Force currently manages the majority of military space operations, and Rogers and Cooper have been at odds with it over Space Force.
Mattis, who was not originally supportive of creating a new branch, reiterated the importance of countering U.S. adversaries in space.
"It's on par with air, land, sea and cyberspace domains in terms of it being contested and it's now a domain in which... we must be equally prepared as all of those other domains," said Mattis. "It's no longer a new domain, it's a domain and we've got to be able to compete, to deter and to win."
Pence said the administration will call on Congress to put resources toward the Space Force in its budget next February. For the time being, the Trump Make America Great Again Committee has asked supporters to vote on a potential logo for the new branch.