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Trump wants 'Space Force' by 2020

China Daily | Updated: 2018-08-11 07:40

WASHINGTON - The US government on Thursday announced an ambitious plan to usher in a new "Space Force" as the sixth branch of the military by 2020, but the proposal was scorned by opponents and may struggle to get liftoff in a divided Congress.

US President Donald Trump has strongly championed the idea of creating a space-focused military service with the same stature as the Air Force and the Army, turning his dreams of a "Space Force" into a rallying cry for supporters at political events.

His 2020 reelection campaign sent a fundraising email on Thursday asking supporters to vote on their favorite Space Force logo for future Trump campaign merchandise, offering a choice of six.

US Vice-President Mike Pence, in an address at the Pentagon, described the Space Force as "an idea whose time has come".

"History proves that peace only comes through strength, and in the realm of outer space, the United States Space Force will be that strength in the years ahead," Pence said. He added that Congress must now act to establish and fund the department.

Trump tweeted: "Space Force all the way!"

The Pentagon laid out its plans to form the new branch of the US military in a 15-page report, identifying immediate steps of action. This includes establishing a Space Development Agency, which is "a joint organization charged with rapidly developing and fielding next-generation capabilities".

The report also called for the creation of a Space Operations Force, which it said will be comprised of career space experts who are "trained, promoted and retained as space war fighting professionals".

Also part of the plan is a United Combatant Command-level Space Command, which will have the task to "improve and evolve space war fighting".

Foreseeable opposition

Although not clearly outlined in the report, Pence announced that the Pentagon will create a new Assistant Secretary of Defense of Space, the top civilian position to oversee the creation of the new branch who will report to the Pentagon chief.

Pence said funding for the new military branch will be requested in the fiscal year 2020 defense budget. He called on Congress to approve an "additional $8 billion in space security systems".

With foreseeable opposition from Congress and top officers in the Pentagon, Pence said that "creating a new branch of the military is not a simple process".

But critics view its creation as an unnecessary and expensive bureaucratic endeavor, a vanity project that simply strips away work already being done effectively by services like the Air Force.

Democratic Senator Brian Schatz, who is on the Defense Appropriations subcommittee, said the Space Force was a "dumb idea".

Reuters - Xinhua - AP

(China Daily 08/11/2018 page8)

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