'Time has come' to create US Space Force, sixth military branch: Pence

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U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence speaks during an event on the creation of a United States Space Force at the Pentagon on Thursday.

The vice president asserted the administration is seeking to add the new military branch by 2020.

Speaking to an audience at the Pentagon, as he set out more details about the proposal, vice-president Mike Pence said: "The time has come to write the next great chapter in the history of our armed forces".

The report calls for the creation of a new major unified Combatant Command called US Space Command, which would be akin to the operational commands that oversee US troops in the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific.

They include establishing civilian oversight for the Space Force and creating a United States Space Command to "improve, evolve and plan space war-fighting".

The Space Force idea, which Trump first floated publicly in March 2018, has been controversial within military circles. "Under President Trump's leadership we will meet it head on". "Until we have those same needs in space, the Air Force and the other services are doing all the things we need to do".

In attendance were Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, and National Guard Bureau Chief Air Force Gen. Sean Lengyel.

The military's role in space has been under scrutiny because the United States is increasingly reliant on orbiting satellites that are hard to protect.

Mattis had previously opposed the creation of a separate military branch focused on space, writing to Rep. Mike Turner of OH in July of 2017 that he did "not wish to add a separate service that would likely present a narrower and even parochial approach to space operations". It requires congressional approval and has been met with skepticism from military leaders and experts who question the wisdom of launching an expensive, bureaucratic new service branch. That's a big statement.

At least one Twitter user is hoping Space Force can finally settle the flat-Earth debate by telling us what's on the other side. "It is going to be something", President Trump announced at a June meeting of the National Space Council.

The U.S. military now consists of five branches - the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard - and a new one hasn't been created since the Air Force got off the ground in 1947.

But 56 years later, space plays a vital role in just about every aspect of modern warfare, with many military technologies reliant on a network of sensors and satellites floating in orbit.

Trump marked Pence's announcement with a tweet: "Space Force all the way!"

Pence cited adversaries' advancements in developing hypersonic missiles, which can travel up to five miles per second and evade missile warning systems.

Mr Trump "knows that space is integral to our American way of life and economic prosperity and is a vital domain for national defence" while, under his direction, the United States is "reclaiming its heritage as the world's greatest space-faring nation", the White House said.

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