Pence: Space Force to be deployed by 2020

Earlier this year, Donald Trump announced that he wanted to create a new branch of the armed forces dedicated to defending the U.S. in space.  This space force would be charged with countering efforts by Russia and China to build a war-fighting capability in Earth orbit.

Yesterday, Vice President Pence gave some details about the new space command.

Fox News:

Pence said on Thursday that it was an idea "whose time had come" and made clear that the White House wants to get on with the project as soon as possible.  He hailed a new report by the Pentagon on the force as a starting point.

"President Trump and I are grateful to Secretary Mattis for this department's diligence in preparing this report, and our administration will soon take action to implement these recommendations, with the objective of establishing the United States Department of the Space Force by 2020," he said.

He said that a new position would be created for an assistant secretary of defense for space.

"Creating a new branch of the military is not a simple process.  It will require collaboration, diligence, and above all leadership.  As challenges arise and deadlines approach, there must be someone in charge who can execute, hold others accountable, and be responsible for the results," he said.

The Pentagon has resisted the idea of a separate branch of the military for the space command.

But the move has faced some signs of skepticism from the Defense Department.  In a letter to Congress last 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."

"We have not done cost estimation yet," Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan told reporters.  Asked to give a rough estimate, Shanahan said, "I would assume it's billions," but would not be more specific.  He said the Pentagon likely would have a firmer estimate by November. 

Earlier this week, Mattis signaled his support for a new Space Command to take place alongside existing commands, but demurred when asked about the creation of a separate service entirely, saying it was a matter for Congress to decide.

He did, however, say the Pentagon was in "complete agreement" with the White House.

"We are working our way through all this.  We are in compete agreement, the vice president is the point man for the president on this, we are working closely, daily with his office and with supporters on Capitol Hill and the relevant committees," he said.  "So we're working it up what that actual organization will look like."

The new command will not involve James Bond-like soldiers armed with lasers in outer space who will fight Russians or Chinese soldiers.  Most of the command already exists within the U.S. Air Force and consists mostly of ground-based infrastructure.  Weapons are banned by treaty from space, so most defensive measures will be keeping track of ground-based threats to our military and communications satellites and perhaps placing unmanned defensive platforms in space designed to intercept these threats.

The idea of a space command is sound.  Currently, all four branches of the armed forces are involved in space operations of some kind.  Most of those operations are currently the responsibility of the Air Force, but pulling everything together under one roof, as well as dedicating more money to the military space program, is necessary to meet the growing threats from Russia, China, and others.

The consent of Congress is necessary to create this new command, and while there has been some skepticism expressed about the cost, it is likely that, in the end, Congress will approve it.

Earlier this year, Donald Trump announced that he wanted to create a new branch of the armed forces dedicated to defending the U.S. in space.  This space force would be charged with countering efforts by Russia and China to build a war-fighting capability in Earth orbit.

Yesterday, Vice President Pence gave some details about the new space command.

Fox News:

Pence said on Thursday that it was an idea "whose time had come" and made clear that the White House wants to get on with the project as soon as possible.  He hailed a new report by the Pentagon on the force as a starting point.

"President Trump and I are grateful to Secretary Mattis for this department's diligence in preparing this report, and our administration will soon take action to implement these recommendations, with the objective of establishing the United States Department of the Space Force by 2020," he said.

He said that a new position would be created for an assistant secretary of defense for space.

"Creating a new branch of the military is not a simple process.  It will require collaboration, diligence, and above all leadership.  As challenges arise and deadlines approach, there must be someone in charge who can execute, hold others accountable, and be responsible for the results," he said.

The Pentagon has resisted the idea of a separate branch of the military for the space command.

But the move has faced some signs of skepticism from the Defense Department.  In a letter to Congress last 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."

"We have not done cost estimation yet," Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan told reporters.  Asked to give a rough estimate, Shanahan said, "I would assume it's billions," but would not be more specific.  He said the Pentagon likely would have a firmer estimate by November. 

Earlier this week, Mattis signaled his support for a new Space Command to take place alongside existing commands, but demurred when asked about the creation of a separate service entirely, saying it was a matter for Congress to decide.

He did, however, say the Pentagon was in "complete agreement" with the White House.

"We are working our way through all this.  We are in compete agreement, the vice president is the point man for the president on this, we are working closely, daily with his office and with supporters on Capitol Hill and the relevant committees," he said.  "So we're working it up what that actual organization will look like."

The new command will not involve James Bond-like soldiers armed with lasers in outer space who will fight Russians or Chinese soldiers.  Most of the command already exists within the U.S. Air Force and consists mostly of ground-based infrastructure.  Weapons are banned by treaty from space, so most defensive measures will be keeping track of ground-based threats to our military and communications satellites and perhaps placing unmanned defensive platforms in space designed to intercept these threats.

The idea of a space command is sound.  Currently, all four branches of the armed forces are involved in space operations of some kind.  Most of those operations are currently the responsibility of the Air Force, but pulling everything together under one roof, as well as dedicating more money to the military space program, is necessary to meet the growing threats from Russia, China, and others.

The consent of Congress is necessary to create this new command, and while there has been some skepticism expressed about the cost, it is likely that, in the end, Congress will approve it.