Vice President Mike Pence officially announced on Thursday what could become the first armed service in the United States since 1947: the Pentagon is planning to launch a Space Force by the year 2020.
If approved and funded by Congress in next year’s budget, the new service would join the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard at a key time for space travel and global politics.
President Trump called in June for the new service to be established in order to protect American satellites from attack, as well as to conduct other work in space.
The Pentagon’s 15-page proposal for the Space Force explains that China and Russia remain “strategic competitors” of the U.S., and that they are “explicitly pursuing space war-fighting capabilities to neutralize U.S. space capabilities in a time of conflict.”
It adds that the two foreign powers are attempting to obtain or build anti-satellite weapons such as lasers in order to “reduce U.S. military effectiveness.”
In fleshing out the plan, Pence said, “We’re building bipartisan support for our plan.”
Although the 71-year-old Air Force has had a Space Command for more than 35 years, military analysts believe that the new Space Force will nonetheless be created out of the Air Force.
Vice President Pence added that between now and 2020, a Space Command is to be established, and a civilian will serve as an assistant secretary of defense for space during that time. He emphasized, “The Space Force is the next and natural evolution of American military strength.”