Pence outlines plan for new Space Force by 2020

Mike Pence expected to announce plans for ‘Space Force’ in U.S. military

We are in complete alignment with the president's concern about protecting our assets in space that contribute to our security, to our economy. "It is becoming a contested war-fighting domain, and we've got to adapt to that reality", U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said in his opening remarks before Pence's speech.

"There is a threat out there but it's being handled by the U.S. Air Force today".

"We must have American dominance in space, and so we will", Pence said.

In June, the president directed the Pentagon to create a "separate but equal" space force, a complicated and expensive move that could take years to gain Congress' approval and become operational.

On Thursday, Pence said that the administration will work with Congress on the plan, and will outline a budget next year. It wasn't immediately clear whether the new force would be a component of the Air Force, as the Marine Corps is to the Navy. The Administration's goal is to establish that branch by 2020. The report was to be released last week by Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan but the White House asked for last minute revisions.

He added that the plan for how best to implement it was still ongoing: "I don't have all the final answers yet".

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"Eventually, it'll settle out, but you will go through years of thrashing". He said Beijing and Moscow have been developing missiles, lasers and other technologies with the aim of targeting U.S. satellites. "I don't think so".

"The next generation of Americans to confront the emerging threats in the boundless expanse of space will be wearing the uniform of the United States of America", he said, adding that Congress must now act to establish and fund the department. Its creation reflects a strategic military shift to emphasize the defense of USA satellite systems that provide the navigation, communication and Earth-observation functions that Americans employ every day.

"For many years, nations from Russian Federation and China to North Korea and Iran have pursued weapons to jam, blind and disable our navigation and communications satellites via electronic attacks from the ground", Pence said. And there are growing worries about cyberattacks that could target satellite technology, potentially leaving troops in combat without electronic communications or navigation abilities.

A new assistant secretary of defense for space: A position that will help transition eventually to a "fully independent Secretary of the Space Force in the years ahead" who will report to Secretary of Defense Mattis.

"Third, the report calls for a new joint organization - the Space Development Agency - that will ensure the men and women of the Space Force have the cutting-edge warfighting capabilities that they need and deserve", he said. It identifies several actions that DoD will take as the nation evolves its space capabilities, "and they are built on the lessons of the past", Pence said. Thursday's plan, which requires authorization and funding from Congress, would develop forces to defend satellites from attack and other space-related tasks.

Thursday's announcement coincided with a report detailed by the Pentagon on how the newest branch of the U.S. military is set to work. Currently, a three-star Space Command falls under the Air Force, headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado responsible for 30,000 personnel worldwide.

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