Administration Wants Space Force by 2020, Pence Says

Speaking before a Pentagon audience, Vice President Mike Pence Thursday said the Trump administration wants to move toward establishing a US Space Force as a separate military service by 2020.

Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday outlined the Trump administration’s plan to establish a sixth military service dedicated to space, saying the goal is to stand up the US Space Force by 2020. The move will require a significant cultural and organizational shift at the Pentagon—and in the Air Force specifically—and will be the first time the US has established a military service since the US Air Force was created in 1947.

President Trump directed establishment of a Space Force in June, and a White House fact sheet released Wednesday pointed to space as a vital domain for US defense, adding that with the new service, “America’s interests in space will receive the focus and investment that the domain deserves.”

Pence’s speech at the Pentagon comes as the Defense Department released a report detailing “five actions that can be taken immediately to begin building the Space Force.”

The congressionally mandated report endorses establishment of a unified US Space Command led by a four-star flag officer; looks to establish a unified command and control for Space Force operations; ensures integration across the military; calls for the development of space warfare doctrine, tactics, techniques, and procedures, and looks to speed of space development of new space technology. Pence called it a “critical step” toward establishing the Space Force.

The report also calls for creation of a group of joint warfighters specializing in the space domain. The Space Operations Force as they will be called will form the “backbone” of the newest armed service. The report also calls for a new joint organization, the Space Development Agency, which will be tasked with ensuring that space warfighters have “the cutting-edge warfighting capabilities” they need.

In addition, he said, the report “calls for clear lines of responsibility and accountability to manage the process of standing up and scaling up the United States Department of the Space Force,” so the administration will create a position of an assistant secretary of defense for space who will be “key to the critical transition to a full independent Secretary of the Space Force in the years ahead.”

“Just as in the past, when we created the Air Force, establishing the Space Force is an idea whose time has come,” Pence said, pointing to a space environment that has become “crowded and adversarial.”

US adversaries, he said, have turned space into a warfighting domain, and “the United States will not shrink from this challenge.”

Pence said the administration’s next budget will “call on the Congress to marshal the resources we need to stand up the Space Force,” and before the end of 2019, the administration will work with Congress to enact the statutory authority for the Space Force in the national defense authorization act.

Following the release of the report, Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) and Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), the chairman and ranking minority member of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, said they were glad the Pentagon is taking the steps to improve US space capabilities, adding that they “look forward to the establishment of a much-needed independent Space Force, as called for by President Trump.”