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Excerpt: "Vice President Pence laid out an ambitious plan Thursday that would create a military command dedicated to space this year and eventually establish a 'Space Force' as the sixth branch of the U.S. military."

Vice President Mike Pence. (photo: Getty)
Vice President Mike Pence. (photo: Getty)


Pence Details Plan for Creation of Space Force in What Would Be the Sixth Branch of the Military

By Christian Davenport and Dan Lamothe, The Washington Post

09 August 18

 

ice President Pence laid out an ambitious plan Thursday that would create a military command dedicated to space this year and eventually establish a “Space Force” as the sixth branch of the U.S. military.

In a speech at the Pentagon, Pence warned of the advancements that potential adversaries were making and issued what amounted to a call to arms to preserve the military’s dominance in space.

“Just as we’ve done in ages past, the United States will meet the emerging threats on this new battlefield,” he said. “The time has come to establish the United States Space Force.”

The creation of a new branch of the military — the first since the Air Force was created in the wake of World War II in 1947 — could require a significant reorganization of the Pentagon. Some officials within the military and national security communities fiercely oppose the idea. The Air Force in particular might lose key responsibilities. The proposal would also need congressional approval.

In the meantime, White House officials have been working with national security leaders to aggressively move ahead without Congress. The first step would be to create a U.S. Space Command by the end of the year, a new combatant command that would have dedicated resources, be led by a four-star general and be tasked with defending space, the way the Pentagon’s Pacific Command oversees the ocean.

The Pentagon will also begin pulling space experts from across the military and setting up a separate acquisitions office, dedicated to buying satellites and developing new technology to help it win wars in space.

After the announcement, President Trump tweeted, “Space Force all the way!”

For months, Trump has been calling a Space Force, a new, free-standing military department, with its own chain of command and uniforms. The White House intends to work with lawmakers in submitting legislation by early next year, a senior administration official said, with the hopes of standing up the department as early as 2020.

In his speech, Pence acknowledged the difficulties in standing up a new service, and said the Pentagon would create an Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space, a new top level civilian position reporting to the Secretary of Defense “to oversee the growth and expansion of the sixth branch of service.”

The new command and reorganization “should be budget neutral,” Scott Pace, the executive secretary of the National Space Council, said in an interview. “However, going forward there probably will need to be an increase in resources to buy improved capabilities and more warfighters as the Space Force matures.”

The White House has pushed for Congress to invest an additional $8 billion in national security space systems over the next five years.

The creation of a Space Force has met with opposition, inside and out of the Pentagon. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in a memo last year to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) he opposed “the creation of a new military service and additional organizational layers at a time when we are focused on reducing overhead and integrating joint warfighting functions.”

While not endorsing a full-fledged service branch, Mattis told reporters earlier this week military leaders “are in complete alignment with the president’s concern about protecting our assets in space to contribute to our security to our economy and we’re going to have to address it as other countries show a capability to attack those assets.”

Paul Scharre, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, called a Space Force “a dumb idea,” in an op-ed on Defense One, which first reported some of the details of the plan. While Scharre agreed “space is the American Achilles’ heel,” he said creating a new bureaucracy with a single focus would handicap the military: “The United States needs to focus on the mission, not the domain.”

Calling a Space Force “the next and the natural evolution of American supremacy,” Pence said the White House was already reaching out to lawmakers to build “bipartisan support.”

In response to the speech, Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) and Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), members of the House Armed Services Committee, praised the move, saying a Space Force “will result in a safer, stronger America.”

“We have been warning for years of the need to protect our space assets and to develop more capable space systems,” they said in a joint statement.

For years, some members of Congress and military leaders have been warning space is no longer a peaceful sanctuary, but a war fighting domain that needs more attention and resources. Space is vital to the way the United States wages war; The Pentagon’s satellites are used for missile-defense warnings, guiding precision munitions and providing communications and reconnaissance.

Russia and China have made significant advancements, challenging the United States’ assets in space.

In 2007, China blew up a dead weather satellite with a missile, creating a massive debris cloud in orbit, which Pence called “a highly provocative demonstration of China’s growing capability to militarize space.” China has also demonstrated the ability to hit satellites in a much deeper orbit where the military parks some of its most sensitive assets.

Pence cited adversaries’ advancements in developing hypersonic missiles, which can travel up to five miles per second and evade missile warning systems.

“America will always seek peace, in space as on earth,” Pence said. “But history proves that peace only comes through strength. And in the realm of outer space, the United States Space Force will be that strength.”


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+22 # librarian1984 2018-08-09 17:06
Can't we just call this Slush Fund #1776 and dispense with the farce?

The Pentagon is insidious, tentacled into every voting district, the largest employer in the world -- and that doesn't count the 17 intelligence agencies.

Every dollar, billions and billions, year after year, going into the pockets of war criminals and corrupt politicians, contractors and mercenaries, lobbyists and slush funds -- money that should have been going to education, infrastructure and healthcare for 80+ years.

There is no country that has been more blatantly hijacked, no citizens more systematically and consistently abused.

When I walk around I see bus drivers and clerks, postal workers, waitresses and teachers -- everyone toiling, stressed, running as hard as they can to stay in place.

There is no county in the US where someone making the minimum wage (which is STILL $7.25), can afford a 2-bedroom apartment, while Ds and Rs tell us progressives are foolish to think the citizens deserve housing or health care, dignity or justice.

We just gave ANOTHER huge windfall to the rich but wages are still stagnant. We all know automation is about to wipe out millions more jobs, but no politician is offering a solution to what's coming.

The planet is burning. America ranks 46th for maternal outcomes and our elections are ranked DEAD LAST for election integrity, but we still let WDC convince us Russia's Facebook activity is the clear and present danger.
 
 
+9 # rural oregon progressive 2018-08-10 00:01
And, as always, neither Pence, Trump,or anyone who supports this idiocy worries about how we will pay for it. We know how they will pay for it: more taxes for those who work from paycheck to paycheck, and cuts to so-called "entitlements", which are actually earned benefits and to safety-nets. Christ, what a shit-show. And the saddest part is that establishment Democrats will join in the chorus...
 
 
+7 # EternalTruth 2018-08-10 10:43
Pay for it? Didn’t you hear?

‘The new command and reorganization “should be budget neutral,” ’

In other words, it’s free! Don’t you feel better now? They wouldn’t lie about something like that.
 
 
+4 # RLF 2018-08-10 14:38
It'll be paid for with the next tax cut for the wealthy...?!?

The pentagon will spend $200billion and won't be able to do what a hacker in Moscow can. They are so pathetic!
 
 
+1 # Caliban 2018-08-10 11:33
Hey -- Obi-wan Kenobi, we need you NOW!
 
 
+10 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-08-09 18:43
Good. Maybe Pence, Trump, and the rest of the clowns in Washington can blast off of the earth and set up their new home in space. There they can bully each other to their hearts content. We will send them a democrat once in a while for a barbeque. Ben Cardin would make a nice roast. Old meat but plenty of fat.
 
 
+6 # futhark 2018-08-10 01:55
Trump and Pence should be the vanguard in the colonization of Mars.
 
 
+8 # PeacefulGarden 2018-08-09 20:59
Onward Christian soldiers into outer space!
 
 
+8 # DudeistPriest 2018-08-09 22:00
Ah, the Space Farce, or the governments plan to give even more money to McDonnel Douglas, GE, Ball Aerospace and a host of other offense contractors. Get your Vaseline out people, they're coming for more.

R&D dollars too, so nobody will know where the hell it goes. Just think of all the lobbyists and campaign contributions that will pay for. I can picture Wall Street and Congress drooling like Pavlov's dogs.

It's gonna be hard though, especially with Agent Orange's new Russian sanctions. Wherever will get the rocket engines to get the Farce into space?

Too bad, we can get them to just smoke a couple of J's, and drop some acid. That ought to be the only space trip they really need.
 
 
+6 # EternalTruth 2018-08-10 01:43
Is this a Borowitz article? It’s a really good one. I’m glad they don’t put the “satire warning” at the beginning anymore. We don’t need it. This is obviously satire.
 
 
+8 # Jim Rocket 2018-08-10 02:33
America's achilles heel isn't "space" it's the Military Industrial Complex - the insatiable monster that does damage all around the world and the people in charge of who are delusional enough to believe they're doing the right thing.

One aspect of trump is the spoiled 8 year old boy and Space Force comes from that little boy.
 
 
+4 # SusanT136 2018-08-10 06:18
I thought this was an Andy Borowitz satire piece when I saw the headline. Whatever needs to be done can be done within the existing military structures. Pence has been watching too many action movies and has dreams of grandeur. Plus he wants more money for his friends / contributors in the weapons industry. And where will this money come from? You guessed it - slashing or eliminating Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
 
 
+3 # BetaTheta 2018-08-10 11:02
This would hasten the day when orbital space is so clouded with the debris from destroyed satellites and other space junk as to make it impossible to maintain ANY satellites there, and imprison us on Earth.
 
 
+6 # Citizen Mike 2018-08-10 12:22
Let's call it the SPACE PATROL and put 'em in those 1950s SF TV show uniforms.
http://nostalgiacentral.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/spacepatrolus2.jpg
 

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