President Donald Trump's administration on Thursday outlined an aggressive plan for creating a sixth branch of the US military by 2020 - a Space Force to better confront emerging security threats - but the proposal will need approval from a divided Congress. It leaves no doubt that the Pentagon is on board with the Space Force plan despite earlier reservations. The White House Gift Shop is already taking pre-orders for Space Force commemorative coins.
"The time has come to establish the United States Space Force", Pence announced in the Pentagon auditorium filled with more than 350 service members and civilians.
However Mattis has since echoed support for Trump's position, saying Tuesday that he was "in complete alignment with the president's concern about protecting our assets in space that contribute to our security, to our economy".
Rather than building up a Space Force from scratch, the Pentagon will take individuals and units working on space programs in the Air Force and other branches, with the objective of having the "United States Department of the Space Force" by 2020.
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President Donald Trump's administration will call on Congress to allocate $8 billion over the next five years to establish the U.S.
Each of the six proposed logos includes the phrase "Space Force", except for one that states "Mars Awaits" even though the administration's proposal focuses on defense and not space exploration.
Trump, the champion of the plan, tweeted: "Space Force all the way!". The U.S. will meet the emerging threats on this new battlefield, he said, and carry on the cause of liberty and peace into the next great frontier.
Much of the push to formalize an off-planet branch of the US armed forces is motivated by space investment by Russian Federation and China.
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"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". As NPR noted at the time, " a new branch of the military can only be established by an act of Congress - something that hasn't happened since the Air Force was split from the Army in 1947.
Space is "becoming a contested war-fighting domain", Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Thursday.
Pence said an independent Space Force was essential to counter Russian Federation and China, which are "aggressively" working toward anti-satellite capabilities.
He said that a new position would be created for an assistant secretary of defense for space. He hailed a new report by the Pentagon on the force as a starting point.
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But Trump has continued to push for a Space Force, so the idea may well become reality before long. The Pentagon and intelligence community has a host of sensitive satellites that perform all sorts of vital national security tasks, such as missile warning, precision-guided munitions, military communications and intelligence. "Until we have those same needs in space, the Air Force and the other services are doing all the things we need to do".
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