Someone’s been playing too much Halo. During a National Space Council meeting, Donald Trump directed the Pentagon and the Department of Defense to form a Space Force” — as in a military division tasked with “conquering” space. According to the Washington Post, this potential sixth branch of the U.S. military could become active as early as 2020. Because space is totally hostile and concerned with colonizing America. And because we don’t have enough problems here on Earth.
“I am hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces,” said Trump. “Our destiny beyond the Earth is not only a matter of national identity but a matter of national security.”
It’s unclear what exactly Trump’s Space Force will look like. Is it something along the lines of Ronald Reagan’s proposed “Star Wars” space-based missile defense system? Or does this dude want straight up X-wings piloted by Spartan-IIs? Whatever the case, Trump means for Space Force to become its own, independent branch of military meant to fight wars on the cosmic battlefield.
“That’s a big statement, we are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the space force. Separate but equal, it is going to be something, so important,” Trump said. “General [Joseph] Dunford, [chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff], if you would carry that assignment out, I would be very greatly honored also.”
Mike Pence, Trump’s number two, outlined a plan to establish the Space Force in a speech to the Pentagon, explaining that the new branch would be “the next and the natural evolution of American supremacy,” which totally doesn’t sound scary at all. The road to Space Force would begin with the creation of a U.S. Space Command by the end of this year. The new command would be led by a four-star general and have its own resources, its mission to oversee the protection of American assets in space.
According to the Washington Post, “space experts from across the military” would also be brought into the fold to advise on the new branch, as well as “a separate acquisitions office, dedicated to buying satellites and developing new technology to help it win wars in space.” The White House has also asked Congress to greenlight an $8 billion investment in “national security space systems” to be dispersed over the next five years. Finally, an Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space position will be established at the Pentagon “to oversee the growth and expansion of the sixth branch of service.”
In his speech, Pence cited advancements by both Russia and China in space. As the Washington Post notes, China has proved itself capable of shooting down orbiting satellites with missiles.
“America will always seek peace, in space as on Earth,” Pence said. “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 first floated the idea of a Space Force in a speech to the military back in March, saying that he “recognizes that space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air, and sea.” His idea for a dystopian, gun-toting Starfleet apparently began as a joke, but then Trump, never the kind of guy to doubt himself, decided he was actually onto something.
Here’s his first mention of Space Force:
According to the Washington Post, the Outer Space Treaty, which the United States signed in 1967, prohibits the testing of weapons and establishing military bases in space. Of course, that’s not stopped the U.S. government from trying to militarize the final frontier. Just last year, Reps. Mike D. Rogers (R-Ala.) and Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) proposed the creation of a “Space Corps” within the Air Force, but the idea was shut down by Pentagon officials, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, due to the costs a division of space soldiers would incur.
“I oppose 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,” said Mattis in a letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
It’s also worth noting that the Air Force already has a Space Command division that heads military operations beyond the planet. In fact, the Air Force is currently testing an unmanned space plane called the X-37B. The plane’s military use is a well-kept secret, but we’ll assume it wasn’t meant for Space Force.
Trump’s space policy does at least extend to NASA (you know, the nerds who actually work to improve our knowledge of space and don’t just want to blow things up). In December 2017, Trump signed Space Policy Directive 1, an initiative to send mankind back to the Moon for the first time since 1972 and eventually to Mars. That is, if a state-sanctioned Master Chief doesn’t blow it up first.