Trump Calls for Establishment of Space Force as the Sixth Military Branch
President Trump has ordered for the creation of a Space Force, which will serve as the sixth military branch in the United States. In a statement, he directed the Department of Defense and the Pentagon to begin the process of implementing this new military branch, which will operate under different conditions than the existent Air Force. He said, “Our destiny beyond the Earth is not only a matter of national identity but a matter of national security.”
What is Space Force?
The idea of the Space Force was first proposed back in March when Trump was speaking to the military in California. He stated, “Space is a warfighting domain, just like the land, air and sea. We may even have a space force.” It was also brought up when addressing the West Point football team during their visit to the White House, when he told his guests, “We’re getting very big in space, both militarily and for other reasons, and we are seriously thinking of the Space Force.”
Last summer, the House of Representatives approved the idea to create a “Space Corps”, which would fallen under the authority of the Air Force. However, the proposal was met with criticism from the Pentagon, the Air Force, and high-ranking military officials including Secretary of Defense James Mattis. In a letter addressed to the House and Senate Armed Services Committee, he wrote “I oppose 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 efforts.”
Creating a New Military Branch
The process of creating a new branch of the military is no light undertaking, as it would require a multitude of complex changes that would need to be implemented. Brian Weeden, the director of program planning for the Secure World Foundation – an NGO that is dedicated to helping shape space policy told The Verge, “There’s a lot of complexity in making this change, since it involves creating a whole new Pentagon bureaucracy from scratch.” He continued, “Everything as mundane as new uniforms all the way through to new doctrine, and probably tens of thousands of new people … it would be a really big change, and it’s not something to be taken lightly.”
While details are slim, the Space Force would be tasked with overseeing the next war-fighting domain of space, as the other branches of the military do with their respective domains. This would involve the deployment of satellites, spacecraft, and other technologies that would help the U.S. protect its interests.
You may be asking yourself if the president even has the power to create a new branch of the military, and the answer is no – not without approval from Congress. The last branch of the military to be created was the Air Force, which was implemented after the passing of the 1947 National Security Act, which was signed into law by Harry Truman. However, plans for the proposed Space Force could face problems with the Outer Space Treaty, which states that nations shall be unable to put nukes in orbit or any celestial body. It also places a ban on war games, military installations, or weapons testing sites. The treaty is more than 50 years old though, and with the rapid advancement of technology, it could possibly be rendered obsolete and void.