Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday outlined plans to create a sixth branch of the U.S. armed forces – the U.S. Space Force to counter U.S. adversaries in space by 2020.
“Now the time has come to establish the United States Space Force, and that’s what brings us here today. Seven weeks ago, President Trump directed the Department of Defense to immediately begin the process necessary to establish the Space Force as the 6th branch of the Armed Forces. The president made it clear that our ultimate objective is to create a new branch of our military that’s separate from and equal to five other branches,” he said.
According to Pence, the Space Force is necessary, because the space environment has become “crowded and adversarial” and “other nations are seeking to disrupt our space-based systems and challenge American supremacy in space as never before.”
“For many years, nations from Russia and China to North Korea and Iran have pursued weapons to blind, jam, and disable our navigation and communication satellites via electronic attacks from the ground, but recently, our adversaries have been working to bring new weapons of war into space itself,” the vice president said.
“In 2007, China launched a missile that tracked and destroyed one of its own satellites – a highly provocative demonstration of China’s growing capability to militarize space. Russia’s been designing an airborne laser to disrupt our space-based system, and it claims to be developing missiles that can be launched from an aircraft mid-flight to destroy American satellites,” he said.
“Both China and Russia 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,” Pence said.
“Both nations are also investing heavily in what are known as hypersonic missiles designed to fly up to five miles per second at such low altitudes that they could potentially evade detention by our missile defense radars. In fact, China claimed to have made its first successful test of a hypersonic vehicle just last week,” the vice president added.
Furthermore, “China and Russia are also aggressively working to incorporate anti-satellite attacks into their war fighting doctrines. In 2015, China created a separate military enterprise to oversee and prioritize its war fighting capabilities in space. As their actions make clear, our adversaries have transformed space into a war fighting domain already, and the United States will not shrink from this challenge,” Pence said.
Instead, the U.S. will meet these challenges “head on” to defend the nation and “build a peaceful future here on Earth and in space.”
Defense Secretary James Mattis released a report Thursday explains the organizational and management structure of the proposed structure. It also outlines four actions that the U.S. will take to evolve its space capabilities, the vice president said.
The administration is calling for the “creation of new unified combatant command for space, the United States Space Command.”
“This new command structure for the physical domain of space led by a four-star flag officer will establish unified command and control for our space force operations, ensure integration across the military, and develop the space war-fighting doctrine, tactics, techniques, and procedures of the future,” Pence said.
Secondly, the report calls for “the creation of an elite group of joint war fighters specializing in the domain of space who will form the backbone of the nation’s newest armed service – Space Operations Force.”
“Just like our special operations forces, a Space Operations Force will draw men and women from across the military and will grow into their own unique and cohesive community. They’ll support the combatant command by providing space expertise in times of crisis and conflict,” Pence said.
“Third, this report calls for the creation of a new joint organization – the Space Development Agency – that will ensure the men and women of the space force have the cutting edge war-fighting capabilities that they need and deserve,” he said.
“While our adversaries have been busy weaponizing space, too often we have bureaucratized it, and over time, our ability to adapt to new and emerging threats have been stifled by needless layers of red tape. The Space Development Agency will break free from ineffective and duplicative bureaucratic structures to focus on innovation, experimentation, and forging the technologies of the future,” Pence added.
“The men and women of the Department of Defense have pioneered some of the most groundbreaking discoveries in our armed forces that literally have revolutionized our national defense in times of need,” the vice president said.
“And now we must do our part to make bold breakthroughs, strengthen America’s industrial base and deliver the cutting edge war-fighting capabilities faster than our adversaries could ever imagine, and that’s exactly what Americans will do,” the vice president said. “Finally, this report calls for clear lines of responsibility and accountability to manage the process of standing up and scaling up the United States Department of the Space Force. Creating a new branch of the military is not a simple process.
“It will require collaboration, diligence, and above all leadership, and as challenges arise, deadlines approach, there must be someone in charge, who can execute, hold others accountable and be responsible for the results, so we will create a single civilian position reporting to the secretary of Defense to oversee the growth and expansion of this new branch of the service,” Pence said.
“This position will be a new assistant secretary of Defense for space, and this leader will be key to the critical transition to a fully independent secretary of the Space Force in the years ahead,” he added.
The administration plans to establish the US Department of the Space Force by the year 2020, but it requires congressional approval.
“Our administration will soon take action to implement these recommendations with the objective of establishing the United States Department of the Space Force by the year 2020. Ultimately, Congress must act to establish this new department, which will organize, train, and equip the United States Space Force. Our administration’s already working with leaders in the Congress to do just that,” Pence said.
“Next February, in the president’s budget, we will call on the Congress to marshal the resources we need to stand up the Space Force, and before the end of next year, our administration will work with the Congress to enact the statutory authority for the Space Force in the National Defense Authorization Act,” he said.
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