10 August 2018Hot off the Press
— U.S. Dept of Defense (@DeptofDefense) August 9, 2018
United States Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday (local time) unveiled details of how the Trump Administration will build the so-called Space Force which is set to become the sixth branch of the US military, saying the “time has come” to prepare for “the next battlefield.”
US President Donald Trump ordered the creation of a space-based military branch in June on the premise that “it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space.”
Mr Pence repeated the President’s words to an audience at the Pentagon and expanded on the President’s justification, saying America’s “adversaries have transformed space into a war-fighting domain already. And the United States will not shrink from this challenge.”
“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,” Vice President Pence said.
Mr Pence directly addressed Russia and China who he said are “aggressively” working toward anti-satellite capabilities by “conducting highly sophisticated on-orbit activities that could enable them to manoeuvre their satellites into close proximity of ours”.
The need for a Space Force is highly contentious with those opposing the idea calling on the US Government to first address more immediate issues such as under-resourced schools.
Following Mr Pence’s Pentagon address, Democrat Senator Brian Schatz took to Twitter to criticise the Space Force saying it is “a dumb idea” that “won’t happen”.
Mr Schatz tweeted:
The VP just announced a new military branch – a “Space Force,” because no R is willing to tell POTUS it’s a dumb idea. Although “Space Force” won’t happen, it’s dangerous to have a leader who cannot be talked out of crazy ideas. Elect D’s to check POTUS power.
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) August 9, 2018
Mr Pence said the Trump Administration wants the Space Force to be established by 2020, before the end of President Trump’s term.
However, the plan still requires approval from Congress, and the concept has been met with scepticism from lawmakers and defence officials who are wary of the cost and added bureaucracy.
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