Vice President Pence laid out an ambitious plan Thursday that would begin creating a military command dedicated to space and establish a “Space Force” as the sixth branch of the U.S. military as soon as 2020, the first since the Air Force was formed shortly after World War II.
Pence warned of the advancements that potential adversaries are 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 in a speech at the Pentagon. “The time has come to establish the United States Space Force.”
But the monumental task of standing up a new military department, which would require approval by a Congress that shelved the idea last year, may require significant new spending and a reorganization of the largest bureaucracy in the world. And the idea has already run into fierce opposition inside and ouEdittside the Pentagon, particularly from the Air Force, which could lose some of its responsibilities.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said last year that he opposed a new department of the military “at a time when we are focused on reducing overhead and integrating joint warfighting functions.”
This week, Mattis said the Pentagon and the White House “are in complete alignment” on the need to view space as a warfighting domain. But he stopped short of endorsing a full-fledged Space Force. In a briefing with reporters after Pence’s speech, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan suggested that Mattis’s comments opposing the Space Force were made at a different time, before the Pentagon received a bolstered budget.