The Defense Department recommended in a new report to Congress steps that would be taken to create a sixth branch of the armed forces, the Space Force.
In an address Thursday at the Pentagon, Vice President Mike Pence said the proposal, which stresses that space is now a major new battlefield in the 21st century, calls for the creation of a U.S. Space Command, a Space Operations Force and a new joint organization named the Space Development Agency. Pending funding from Congress – the administration is asking for $8 billion over five years – the target date to stand up the new Space Force is 2020.
“To be clear, the Space Force will not be built from scratch, because the men and women who run and protect our nation’s space programs today are already the best in the world,” Pence said.
Space is already a major new battlefield in the 21st century, said Pence, with the pace now stepping up. “For many years, nations from Russia and China to North Korea and Iran have pursued weapons to jam, blind and disable our navigation and communications satellites via electronic attacks from the ground,” he said. “But recently, our adversaries have been working to bring new weapons of war into space itself.”
Progress on the establishment of the new force will depend on Congress approving a budget next year and updating the National Defense Authorization Act. There will also be a requirement to appoint an assistant secretary of Defense for space.