Space Force marks the first new U.S. military branch in over 70 years

By Sean Neumann
December 23, 2019 11:49 AM
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Credit: Andrew Harnik/AP/Shutterstock

President Donald Trump’s seeming joke about creating a space branch of the military became a reality over the weekend after the president signed “Space Force” into law.

“With my signature today, you will witness the birth of the Space Force, and that will be now officially the sixth branch of the United States Armed Forces,” Trump said Friday before officially signing the National Defense Authorization Act — which creates funding for Space Force — into law. “That is something really incredible. It’s a big moment. That’s a big moment, and we’re all here for it. Space. Going to be a lot of things happening in space.”

Trump’s plan for Space Force is beginning much smaller than he had hoped, according to an Associated Press report, but it gives the president a win after last week’s impeachment.

Space Force is part of a $1.4 trillion government budget that not only reverses cuts to U.S. defense programs but also allocates funding to the U.S.-Mexico border wall, according to the AP.

Trump’s Space Force started out as an off-the-cuff response from the president about the U.S. military defense back in early 2018, though a Washington Post report indicates the plan had been in the works for long beforehand.

“I said maybe we need a new force, we’ll call it the Space Force,” Trump said at a Marine Corps rally in March 2018. “And I was not really serious. Then I said, ‘What a great idea, maybe we’ll have to do that.’ ”

In June 2018, he called on the Pentagon to begin working on establishing Space Force.

“When it comes to defending America, it is not nearly enough to merely have an American presence in space,” Trump said then. “We must have an American dominance in space.”

President Donald Trump officially signed “Space Force” into law over the weekend.
| Credit: Andrew Harnik/AP/Shutterstock

Now, the United States has its first new military branch in more than 70 years — the first since the Air Force was created under President Harry S. Truman in 1947.

Though its been memed this past year, the Space Force has some practicality — despite the Star Wars-like wonder its name evokes.

American satellites are vulnerable to foreign attacks and the technologies we rely on are at risk because of that, some officials warn, according to the Wall Street Journal. In fact, everything from civilian to military technologies could be damaged, including GPS navigation systems, cell phone communication, and the ability for the U.S. military to fire off missiles.

Both China and Russia have both successfully tested missiles in space that target satellites. Trump has routinely called attention to this rehashed space race against China and Russia while campaigning for Space Force funding over the past year.

Gen. William Shelton, a retired commander of U.S. Air Force Space Command, told the Wall Street Journal earlier this year: “Think of all the things that won’t exist without space — remotely piloted aircraft, all-weather precision-guided munitions. Now we can target anyplace on the planet, anytime, anywhere, any weather. That will be lost.”

U.S. defense secretary Mark Esper calls space a “warfighting domain,” which President Trump echoed in the exact same phrase on Friday before making Space Force official.

“I think what we are trying to do is recognize that space is no longer a place in which we support combat operations or from which we look down upon the world and see what’s happening,” Esper said in July. “It is now a warfighting domain — not because we made it that way, but because the Russians and Chinese are making it that way.”