"Space force all the way!" So tweeted President Trump on Thursday after his VP outlined the White House vision to have a new US Space Force in operation in a scant two years. This would be no small feat: Mike Pence detailed a plan in which the Space Force would be a sixth military service on par with the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard—and the first new addition since the Air Force came along in 1947, reports the Washington Post. Details:
- Why? The Pentagon increasingly relies on space technology—satellites, for example—and the White House argues that it's time for a dedicated force to protect American interests above, particularly from Russia and China. “Just as we’ve done in ages past, the United States will meet the emerging threats on this new battlefield,” said Pence. “The time has come to establish the United States Space Force.”
- Congress' role: Only Congress can create a new branch of the military, and Pence promised that the White House would work closely with members and produce a budget for it next year, reports the AP. Bipartisan support seems to be there: GOP Rep. Mike Rogers and Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper, members of the House Armed Services panel, said in a joint statement that the move is overdue and would "result in a safer, stronger America.”
- New position: The plan calls for a new civilian position of assistant secretary defense for space who would report directly to the defense chief, reports Axios.
- The changes: Instead of creating the branch from scratch, the plan involves a major restructuring of current space systems, reports NBC News. As part of that, a "unified combatant command" called the US Space Command would be established and led by a four-star general. "This would seemingly reorganize the warfighting chain of command for space—something that’s separate from what the Space Force would do," per the Verge, which digs deep into the nitty gritty of the possible changes. Also to be established would be a Space Development Agency and a Space Operations Force.
- The jokes: Jimmy Kimmel is out with an imaginative recruiting ad. And Billboard rounds up proposed theme songs, including one from Samantha Bee.
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