“With my signature today, you are witnessing the birth of the Space Force, and it is now officially the sixth branch of the United States Armed Forces,” said Trump at the Andrews Air Force base near Washington. Space was the newest military area of operations.
And indeed, with President Trump’s signature under the 2020 defense budget, the path is clear for the creation of a new military unit, the first one since 1947. It is a significant success for Trump, who had campaigned for the formation of his Space Force.
Trump has repeatedly called for space forces to be created. In August, he established a Spacecom military command for space. To found the actual Space Force, however, he needed Congress’ approval.
This month, amid all the impeachment shenanigans, Republicans and Democrats agreed in Congress to introduce Space Force by rebranding the existing Air Force Space Command.
Unlike the Army, the Air Force, the Navy, and the Marines or the Coast Guard, Space Force, just as the name indicates, will operate in a rather different area, i.e., space. The primary goal is to maintain the US’ hegemony in space, also because, according to Trump, it will become a new war front in the future.
Space was a new war front, Trump said on Friday evening, making it clear that creating independent space forces was a big step. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper also said the Space Force’s mission is to defend US domination in space.
The United States Space Force will become an additional unit in the military alongside those mentioned above. However, it is directly linked to the Air Force and will be led by General Jay Raymond.
“He will be the very first member of the Space Force,” said Trump. The commander – who reports to the head of the Air Force – has yet to be confirmed by the Senate. The current plan does not provide for additional soldiers for the “Space Force,” these will be recruited from the Air Force, altogether 16,000 soldiers and civilians.
When Trump first communicated his plans for Space Force to the public last year, it was primarily ridiculed. Too expensive and irrelevant. A pure symbol. Even the Defense Department had reservations about the President’s plans.
However, it is now clear that space plays an essential role in defense and modern warfare, for example, through satellite-based technologies and weapon systems. Even NATO declared space an independent military area this year. While French President Macron even announced the establishment of a military space command in July.
The USA currently dominates space, but Russia and China are catching up and have already registered their claims. While the current plans for the US do not include science fiction scenarios of deploying soldiers into orbit, Space Force will protect US property in space, such as hundreds of satellites that are being utilized for communicating and for gathering intelligence.
The timing is no coincidence. US military experts have continued to warn about China’s and Russia’s advancements in what is called the military’s final frontier.
Vice-President Pence even stated that Russia, as well as China, possessed airborne lasers and anti-satellite missiles that the US needed to counter. “The space environment has fundamentally changed in the last generation,” he said. “What was once peaceful and uncontested is now crowded and adversarial.”
All three states had tested weapons that have the capacity of destroying a satellite, according to research by the Secure World Foundation, which records military capabilities in space.