At a meeting of the National Space Council on June 18, US President Donald Trump directed the Pentagon to create a Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces. The directive is a move that many industry analysts had expected as the country pushes to secure strategic assets in space.
“We are going to have the Air Force, and we are going to have the Space Force. Separate but equal. It is going to be something,” said President Trump. “I’m hereby directing the department of Defense and the Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces.”
The move to create a Space Force is largely due to both private and military analysts questioning the country’s ability to secure strategic assets in space. Space as an arena for war would be less traditional confrontational warfare (think Star Wars) and would more likely involve the targeting of communication and intelligence satellites. The targeting of these assets could cripple the country’s ability for early warning detection and even their ability to launch retaliatory strikes.
Under the Obama presidency, the US shifted the responsibility for technological advancements in space to commercial partners. Although the country continued to launch intelligence satellites and other classified payloads, the period allowed both Russia and China to close the technological gap.
The directive to create the US Space Force now needs the approval of both the House and the Senate. Although the House is likely to support it, having lobbied hard for its creation, it will likely face a far less welcoming reception in the Senate.