If U.S. President Donald Trump manages to get Congress to see through his eyes, which he most likely will, Space Force could become a reality by, as early as, 2020.
Effectively, it will become the sixth branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, after the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and the Navy.
“Separate but equal” is the term President Trump had used to compare Space Force with the U.S. Air Force, speaking about it in a June meeting where the NSC (National Space Council) was going to reveal the first all-encompassing policy on space traffic management.
“We are going to have the Air Force and we’re going to have the Space Force, separate but equal. It is going to be something so important,” Trump had said.
Describing Space Force as “an idea whose time has come” in a Pentagon address on Thursday (August 9), U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said:
“The next generation of Americans to confront the emerging threats in the boundless expanse of space will be wearing the uniform of the United States of America,” going on to suggest that the ball was now in the Congress court for establishing and funding the mammoth project.
“Our nation’s armed forces have always been the vanguard of advancing American leadership here on Earth and beyond,” he also said. “The Space Force is the next and natural evolution of American military strength.”
“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,” he said.
Trump’s tweeted response, to what we can consider another official announcement of a sixth military entity, read, “Space Force all the way!”
Of course, establishing Space Force would necessitate Congress consensus in the form of a new legislation and funding, which is exactly what the Trump administration proposes to do, come February when the president presents his annual budget request.
“Next February in the president’s budget, we will call on the Congress to marshal the resources we need to stand up,” Pence said during his Pentagon speech.
Explaining how the Trump administration plans to proceed in the initial stages, subject to a Congress nod, of course, Pence outlined four basic lines of action, or what you can call the first steps toward the creation of Space Force.
Here they are:
ONE: The incumbent U.S. government proposes the creation of a new U.S. Space Command in order to “establish unified command control for our Space Force operations; ensure integration across the military; and develop the space warfighting doctrine, tactics, techniques and procedures of the future,” the vice president said.
TWO: Pence said that a Space Development Agency would be established for the research and development of emerging technologies, all of which would go a long way in ensuring “cutting-edge war-fighting capabilities.”
THREE: Pence said “an elite group of joint warfighters specializing in the domain of space” would be established.
FOUR: A new chain of command will be set up to establish “clear lines of responsibility and accountability to manage the process of standing up and scaling up the United States Department of the Space Force.”
Trump first publicly floated the idea of a sixth military dimension in space earlier this year, saying that his government’s “new national strategy for space recognizes that space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air and sea.”
Then, again, in a June meeting of the NSC, Trump demonstrated his administration’s seriousness in pursuing the idea by officially ordering the Pentagon and the DoD to work on developing Space Force.
“I’m hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces,” Trump had said and then spoilt it by a bit of braggadocio as he added, “That’s a big statement.”
As brilliant as the idea of having a dedicated military branch to secure the infinite deeps of space may seem to a lot of people, it is definitely not without its fair share of detractors.
Critics and naysayers, including National security specialists, as well as U.S. Armed Forces officials, have openly voiced their concerns against the creation of such an entity.
Their argument is based on the premise that creating a separate force for space-related activities of the U.S. Armed Forces would encroach on the domain of the U.S. Air Force Space Command, which is currently managing that particular area of the nation’s concerns.
Following the June announcement, senior U.S. Senator from Florida Bill Nelson (D) claimed in a tweet that U.S. military generals had told him they were not happy with the idea of Space Force.
Sen. Nelson said that this was not the opportune time to rearrange the Air Force in order to create a new branch for the military; it would, potentially, jeopardize several important ongoing missions.
“The president told a US general to create a new Space Force as 6th branch of military today, which generals tell me they don’t want,” the senator tweeted.
“Thankfully the president can’t do it without Congress because now is NOT the time to rip the Air Force apart. Too many important missions at stake,” the tweet further said.
Among the takers of the proposed concept is the U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, as his opening remarks before the vice president’s Thursday address at the Pentagon suggests.
“It is becoming a contested war-fighting domain, and we’ve got to adapt to that reality,” Mattis said.