Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday outlined plans for a Space Force, a new "separate but equal" branch of the military that President Donald Trump wants to establish and implement by 2020.
Giving a speech at the Pentagon, Pence said a Space Force is necessary to defend the United States against the growing military and space capabilities of adversaries like China and Russia.
Breaking: Pence details plan for creation of a Space Force that would become the sixth branch of the military https://t.co/rumEiAwIMt— The Washington Post (@The Washington Post) 1533828104.0
"Just as we’ve done in ages past, the United States will meet the emerging threats on this new battlefield," he said. "The time has come to establish the United States Space Force."
Pence added that the weaponization of space is "the next and the natural evolution of American supremacy."
.@POTUS Trump is committed to preparing for the next battlefield where America’s best and bravest will be called to… https://t.co/6shhPuT4JD— Vice President Mike Pence (@Vice President Mike Pence) 1533827190.0
"America will always seek peace, in space as on earth," Pence added. "But history proves that peace only comes through strength. And in the realm of outer space, the United States Space Force will be that strength."
Trump responded to Pence's speech on Twitter: "Space Force all the way!"
Space Force all the way!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1533830610.0
Trump got roasted immediately.
@realDonaldTrump Manaforce all the way to prison!— God (@God) 1533830721.0
@realDonaldTrump Trump I think you mean Meme* Force— Dr Grandayy (@Dr Grandayy) 1533831197.0
@RogueNASA @realDonaldTrump Can you just take some pictures of a Buzz Lightyear action figure on the mood and tell… https://t.co/r5PJReGA5Y— Archimedes-Resists b/c Here Right Matters🦉Ω (@Archimedes-Resists b/c Here Right Matters🦉Ω) 1533832425.0
@realDonaldTrump To covfefe and beyond!— Covfefe (@Covfefe) 1533830645.0
How are we going to pay for this, exactly?
The $8 billion proposal would require Congressional approval and would take away responsibilities from the Air Force, which currently monitors our skies.
Former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly called Trump's Space Force a "dumb idea."
This is a dumb idea. The Air Force does this already. That is their job. What’s next, we move submarines to the 7th… https://t.co/HZRx2apSJo— Mark Kelly (@Mark Kelly) 1529378089.0
If Trump can't get a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border, why not wall off the planet?
@realDonaldTrump If Trump Can't Even Build His Wall, Can He Build A Space Force? https://t.co/Lx4Zr7rOUB via @IBDinvestors— Mel (@Mel) 1533832333.0
Meanwhile, space exploration, which includes planetary defense research against asteroids and meteors, faces steep budget cuts.
The administration, some critics have pointed out, prioritizes war over science.
The thought of weapons in space, aimed at our planet, is a truly terrifying for some people, who suggest we should invest more money in NASA instead.
@realDonaldTrump We should be investing in NASA. Not militarizing space. Donald Trump’s useless border wall will co… https://t.co/gzPYBKAusf— ♻️🇺🇸 Christopher Zullo (@♻️🇺🇸 Christopher Zullo) 1533830833.0
The White House plans to create a U.S. Space Command by the end of 2018, which will be "led by a four-star general and be tasked with defending space, the way the Pentagon’s Pacific Command oversees the ocean," the Washington Post reported on Thursday.
There appears to be some budding bipartisan support for the Space Force in Congress. Representatives Mike Rogers (R-AL) and Jim Cooper (D-TN), who serve the House Armed Services Committee, responded to Pence's speech with enthusiasm.
A Space Force "will result in a safer, stronger America," Rogers and Cooper said in a joint statement. "We have been warning for years of the need to protect our space assets and to develop more capable space systems."
Defense and military leaders have expressed strong opposition to adding a sixth branch to the United States Armed Forces.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Senator John McCain (R-AZ) that he opposed "the creation of a new military service and additional organizational layers at a time when we are focused on reducing overhead and integrating joint warfighting functions."
Mattis later added that despite his personal skepticism, military leaders are "in complete alignment with the president’s concern about protecting our assets in space to contribute to our security to our economy and we’re going to have to address it as other countries show a capability to attack those assets."