Vice President Mike Pence announced Thursday that the Pentagon is beginning the process of creating a sixth branch of the United States military dedicated to space that will be known as the Space Force.
The U.S. military now consists of five branches - the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard - and a new one hasn't been created since the Air Force got off the ground in 1947.
"It's not enough to have an American presence in space", Pence said Thursday in a speech at the Pentagon.
When the idea of creating a space corps within the Air Force was brought before Congress in 2017, Defense Secretary James Mattis rejected the idea as a superfluous "additional organizational and administrative tail" on the military.
In just two years the U.S. plans to have a new military programme geared towards space.
Currently, there is a 30,000-person, three-star space command that's under the jurisdiction of the Air Force, said ABC News.
He also said Russian Federation and China were developing weapons, such as hypersonic missiles, to launch attacks from space here on Earth. "And the United States will not shrink from this challenge", he said.
"In 2007, China launched a missile which tracked and destroyed one of its own satellites, a highly provocative demonstration of China's growing capability to militarise space". A new branch of the military would require layers of bureaucracy, military and civilian leaders, uniforms, equipment and an expansive support structure. "We must have American dominance in space".
"This report is a step in a multi-year process that we think will result in a safer, stronger America", they said. Most of the satellites are operated by the Air Force, which is likely to see a decrease in responsibilities after the proposed reorganization. He said the administration was working with Congress on legislation.
"To be clear, the Space Force will not be built from scratch, because the men and women who run and protect our nation's space programs today are already the best in the world", he said. While this does allow a variety of conventional weapons in space, practical considerations should limit things like anti-satellite weapons, which have the potential to create debris fields that limit access to space by all nations. "But history proves that peace only comes through strength", he added.
"The time has come to establish the United States Space Force", Pence said.
Trump's Space Force plan would go even further, creating a new branch with both a new member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a political appointee serving as a service secretary. In a letter to Congress past year, Secretary James Mattis said he opposed the idea of a separate force, arguing that it would "likely present a narrower and even parochial approach to space operations" and said that a "properly integrated approach is better for carrying out this mission".