First announced by Trump back in June, Space Force is now closer to reality with Vice-President Mike Pence providing further detail on the new arm of the military.

By Daniel Herborn

Posted on August 10, 2018

Pence raised the possibility of Space Force being established as early as 2020.

“The time has come to write the next great chapter in the history of our armed forces,” he told an audience at the Pentagon.

“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.”

Pence called for an additional US$8 billion from Congress for space security measures.

Shortly after Pence’s speech, Trump tweeted: “Space Force all the way!”

Congress would need to approve the establishment of the new body though some members have already expressed scepticism about whether the new branch of the military is necessary or affordable.

Pence outlined that the Pentagon will assemble the US Space Command, a uniformed combatant command, which would be led by a four-star officer and incorporate officers from the other armed services. Full costs for this program will be made available to Congress in February 2019.

On 17 June 2018, Trump told the National Science Council: “It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space.”

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, in introducing Pence said that space “is becoming a contested war-fighting domain and we have to adapt to that reality.”

White House issues a statement on Space Force

A statement from the White House said that Space Force would serve a number of different economic and military objectives.

“Space is also invaluable to American private industry, which is developing revolutionary technologies that will utilize space for exploration, resource extraction, and tourism,” the statement said.

“Potential adversaries recognize the importance of space to our country and are actively developing ways to deny our use of it in a crisis.”

The statement goes on to note the Director of National Intelligence has warned that foreign nations, including both China and Russia, have been developing both destructive and nondestructive antisatellite weapons that may be only a few years away from being operational.

The Trump campaign also released a number of possible logos for Space Force in an email to its supporters.

Reactions to Space Force

Newly-elected Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez asked the rhetorical question of how the US was going to pay for the multibillion-dollar Space Force.

“Oh wait sorry – we only ask that when it comes to healthcare, education, and saving the planet,” she wrote.

Hawaiian Democratic Senator Brian Schatz tweeted that nobody within Trump’s Republican party dared to oppose it. “no R is willing to tell POTUS it’s a dumb idea,” he wrote. In another tweet, he described the proposed body as a “silly but dangerous idea”.

Scott Kelly, a former Commander of the International Space Station and NASA Astronaut, said the new body would be a waste of money and could endanger peaceful space exploration.

“It’s not clear to me what the purpose is of this new branch of the military, which is going to be incredibly expensive,” Kelly told MSNBC.

“My big concern here is that space has been a place for us to work in a peaceful manner. Changing that with not any clear reason at this point is … hard to understand.”

Lexington Institute military analyst Loren Thompson was also opposed to Space Force. “It will disrupt existing military relationships and add nothing of value,” he said.

“Nobody in the Pentagon believes creating a Space Force makes sense. If that same view prevails in Congress, then it isn’t going to happen.”

Mattis had previously opposed the establishment of a separate force. Last year, he wrote to Congress that such a body would “likely present a narrower and even parochial approach to space operations.”

But Mattis said he now supports Space Force. “We need to address space as a developing war-fighting domain and a combatant command is certainly one thing that we can – we can establish,” he told reporters.

“This is a process we’re in. We are in complete alignment with the president’s concern about protecting our assets in space that contribute to our security, to our economy. And we’re going to have to address it as other countries show a capability to attack those assets.”