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Pence outlines U.S. Space Force plan for 'next battlefield'

10 August 2018

The Trump Administration outlined a plan to make a "Space Force" the sixth branch of the US military Thursday, but there are still significant hurdles before it could become a reality.

These developments come some seven weeks after President Donald Trump announced his plan to create a dedicated service branch for space, ordering the Pentagon to begin planning for a space force.

Editor's note: This story was updated August 9 to include details of the White House webcast for Pence's Space Force speech.

Last year, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in a memo to Sen.

Pence said an independent Space Force was essential to counter Russian Federation and China, which are "aggressively" working toward anti-satellite capabilities.

Given the stakes surrounding building a new branch of the military, the issue is likely to be a political football.

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"The time has come to establish the Unites States Space Force".

The creation of a Space Force has met with opposition, inside and out of the Pentagon.

Pence said the White House already has been working with Congress to develop the plan.

While Pence says the the administration aims to have the sixth branch formulated by 2020, the establishment of a new military branch to oversee war fighting in space would require congressional approval.

"We need to address space as a developing war fighting domain and a combatant command is certainly one thing that we can - we can establish", Mattis told reporters.

"There will be no Millennium Falcon, no Jedis or Wookiees we are sad to report", the Fox News host said.

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Critics, even those who agree with the strategic significance of space, argue that creating a Space Force is "an unnecessary and expensive bureaucratic endeavor", as Reuters put it. "Next February in the president's budget, we will call on the Congress to marshal the resources we need to stand up".

Trump first broached the idea in March, reviving a debate that began nearly 20 years ago about whether the Pentagon's space activities should be moved to a new command.

Shortly after Pence's speech, Trump tweeted: "Space Force all the way!".

The Air Force, the newest of the armed services dating to 1947, has the largest stake in space. "We have a Navy to protect shipping lanes", she said.

The Department of Defense released a report on Thursday detailing the specifics on how it will carry out Trump's request to establish a Space Force by 2020. "Success will demand the best of each of you", he said.

Speaking at the Pentagon, he said: "Today, other nations are seeking to disrupt our space based systems and challenge American supremacy in space like never before". This agency will streamline the process of ensuring the Space Force has the tools and technologies it needs when it needs them.

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Pence outlines U.S. Space Force plan for 'next battlefield'