The Trump administration is planning to create a Space Force, a new branch of the US military, by 2020. Detailing plans for the same, Vice-President Mike Pence Thursday said the department will ensure America’s dominance in space at a time of heightened competition and threats from China and Russia, reported the Associated Press.
“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,” Pence was quoted as saying by AP.
The concept of a Space Force was first proposed in 2000. The idea was brought up again by US President Donald Trump in June this year.
Space Force all the way!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 9, 2018
What is a Space Force?
The Space Force will be a new department of the US military which Trump has described as “separate but equal”. This will be the sixth service after the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Air Force.
According to the plan, the Space Force will comprise three units. The Space Command will be led by a four-star general to oversee warfighting operations. The Space Development Agency will identify and develop new technologies. The third unit is the Space Operations Force, made up of leaders and fighters for their expertise.
At present, the US Air Force Space Command looks after space power and air force cyberwarfare. It has 38,000 personnel and operates 185 military satellite systems. This division will come under the ambit of the Space Force.
Using satellites, the Space Force will aid other arms of the military by strengthening communications, navigation and providing intelligence to counter adversaries which could use missiles or cyber warfare to target its satellites.
Maybe, just maybe, we should make sure our people are not dying because they lack health insurance before we start spending billions to militarize outer space. #SpaceForce
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) August 9, 2018
The cost of a Space Force
The administration is expected to outline a budget for the Space Force along with Congress next year. The Deputy Defense Secretary, meanwhile, has predicted that the budget, which will have to take into account military and civilian leaders, uniforms and equipment among other support structures, will run into billions.
The proposal for a Space Force, which has been sent to Congress, could take years to be approved and become operational. According to the Constitution, it is Congress’ responsibility to “raise and support armies”. The Army and the Navy, the first two branches of the US military, are enshrined in the Constitution. The Air Force, the last unit which was created, was established after World War II in 1947 when Congress passed the National Security Act to reorganise the country’s military divisions to include air operations as a separate division.
Critics remain sceptical of the proposal, questioning the requirement of such an expensive department. Democratic Senator Bill Nelson says the Space Force will “rip the Air Force apart”, while Senator Bernie Sanders said the government should use its resources to guarantee healthcare instead of “spending billions to militarize outer space.”