Space Force To Become Sixth Branch Of US Armed Forces

Susan Walsh  AP

"The time has come to establish the United States Space Force", Pence said at the Pentagon. But he didn't specifically advocate a Space Force.

Pence outlined a series of steps the Pentagon will undertake before Space Force comes online. Congressional support will be needed to complete this mission, according to CNN.

"The time has come to establish the United States Space Force", Pence said. No new service branch has been established by Congress since the creation of the U.S. Air Force in 1947 - over 70 years ago.

"I don't think it's necessary", former astronaut Scott Kelly told CNN Thursday.

In June, President Donald Trump ordered the creation of US Space Force, arguing the Pentagon needs it to tackle vulnerabilities in space and assert US dominance in orbit. "The only person you hear promoting this is the president, so it'd be nice to get a little more of a buy-in from the experts and it doesn't seem like we have that". Shortly after Pence's speech, Trump tweeted: "Space Force all the way!"

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In an email to supporters sent out this afternoon, the Trump Make America Great Again Committee asked their supporters to vote for their favorite Space Force logo design.

Mr Pence said that the United States administration will work with congress on the plan, and will outline a budget next year.

When the proposal for a separate force was launched past year, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resisted it.

Satellites provide communications, navigation, intelligence and other services vital to the military and the economy.

Given the stakes about building a new branch of the military, the issue is likely to be a political football.

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Finally, the Pentagon would also establish a US Space Command to be led by a four-star general or flag officer, he said.

At least Defense Secretary Jim Mattis showed signs of coming around.

"China and Russian Federation have been conducting highly sophisticated on-orbit activities that could enable them to maneuver their satellites into close proximity of ours, posing unprecedented new dangers to our space systems", he said. The campaign also said it would sell branded merchandise about the Force. China and Russian Federation have tested weapons that could be used for that goal: China destroyed one of its own satellites in a 2007 test, and Russian Federation revived its defunct space force in 2011. "This is a process we're in".

"There is a threat out there but it's being handled by the US Air Force today".

Pence identified interim steps to creation of the Space Force in two years.

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"Creating a separate service will just add to dysfunction at the Defense Department", he said.

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