Just the Facts

Five Facts on The Space Force

By No Labels
August 10, 2018 | Blog

On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence announced a plan to create a U.S. Space Force by 2020, which would be charged with protecting U.S. interests in space.  Here are five facts on the Space Force.

President Trump’s proposed “Space Force” would be the sixth branch of the United States Military along with the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard

The new branch would be responsible for the U.S. military’s space capabilities, which is currently housed within the Air Force Space Command. As space has yet to become the next war fighting domain, the Space Force’s role would likely focus on satellites and new technologies used in space. Ultimately, the goal of this branch would be to ensure “American dominance in space.”

President Trump first proposed the creation of a “Space Force” while speaking at a Marine Corps Air Station in March

However, this was not the first time that the idea was suggested. Last year, Reps. Mike D. Rogers (R-AL) and Jim Cooper (D-TN) promoted a defense policy bill which would have created a space corps, described as a means of “protecting the interests of the United States in space; deterring aggression in, from, and through space.” The Space Corps was ultimately removed from the National Defense Authorization Act, but the Pentagon was ordered to launch an independent study on the issue. Yesterday Trump enthusiastically tweeted, “Space Force all the way!”

Yesterday, Vice President Mike Pence announced the Pentagon’s plan for the creation of a Space Force by 2020 that will be “separate from and equal to the five other branches”

Shortly following the vice president’s announcement the Department of Defense (DoD) laid out four steps for the establishment of a Space Force. According to the Pentagon’s plan, it must first create a Space Development Agency to produce space technologies. Then, the DoD will develop a Space Operations Force to provide space expertise to combatant commanders. Next, the Pentagon will produce a legislative proposal for congressional consideration for the Space Force to be included in the Fiscal Year 2020 budget. Finally, the department must develop a U.S. Space Command led by a four-star general or a flag officer (a high ranking naval officer).

President Trump cannot create a Space Force without the approval of Congress

While the Executive Branch is charged with coordinating and supervising the United States military, only Congress can fund a new branch of the military. The most recent branch of the Military to be created was the Air Force, which became fully autonomous following passage of the National Security Act of 1947. This Act was responsible for creating the current U.S. military structure, including the formation of the Department of Defense which is overseen by the secretary of Defense.

The Executive Branch’s announcement has been met with hesitation from Congress as well as key members of the Department of Defense

Secretary James Mattis wrote a letter to Committee on Armed Services Chair, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), in October 2017 expressing his concern with a Space Force, stating the DoD is primarily “focused on reducing overhead and integrating joint warfighting functions.” Since then, Mattis has transitioned to publicly supporting President Trump’s initiative, saying “We are in complete alignment with the president’s concern about protecting our assets in space.” In addition to the secretary of Defense’s concerns, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) tweeted, “Now is NOT the time to rip the Air Force apart. Too many important missions at stake.”

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