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Pence outlines US Space Force plan for 'next battlefield'

Pence outlines US Space Force plan for 'next battlefield'

Vice President Mike Pence announced the plan at the Pentagon on Thursday and gave a 2020 deadline to launch what will become the sixth branch of the US military.

According to the Associated Press, the Pentagon delivered a proposal to Congress Thursday that details plans to consolidate the Pentagon's warfighting space forces and make organizational changes to boost the acquisition and development of leading edge technologies. But he didn't specifically advocate a Space Force.

A senior official at the White House said the administration plans to work with Congress to introduce by early 2019 a bill that would set up a new military department.

During remarks at the Pentagon, Pence said the goal is for the Space Force to be operational by 2020.

Mr Pence said the service is needed to ensure America's dominance in space amid heightened threats from China and Russian Federation. Before that, the Pentagon will create the U.S. Space Command, which will be led by a four-star officer and draw forces from the other armed services. "The only person you hear promoting this is the president, so it'd be nice to get a little more of a buy-in from the experts and it doesn't seem like we have that".

Gary Cameron/ReutersFormer Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey on Friday slammed President Donald Trump's "Space Force" idea and called on Congress to step in.

"To defend the USA is not enough to have just an American presence in space".

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Pence also asked Congress to approve an additional budget of $ 8 billion over the next 5 years. Those satellites handle intelligence and surveillance, as well as command, control and communication, among other things.

Given the stakes about building a new branch of the military, the issue is likely to be a political football.

The Pentagon proposal delivered to Congress on Thursday lays out plans to consolidate US warfighting space forces and make organizational changes to boost the acquisition and development of technologies. "We are glad that the Pentagon is finally taking these steps in enhancing our space strength".

A new branch of the military would require layers of bureaucracy, military and civilian leaders, uniforms, equipment and an expansive support structure. More than 30 years ago, the General Accounting Office called for the creation of a separate Space Force that would build "a constellation of laser battle stations in space" to address the growing threat from the Soviet Union. China and Russian Federation have tested weapons that could be used for that goal: China destroyed one of its own satellites in a 2007 test, and Russian Federation revived its defunct space force in 2011. They said the Pentagon report was the start of a "multi-year process that we think will result in a safer, stronger America". That includes everything from satellites enabling the Global Positioning System to sensors that help track missile launches.

Pence now serves as chair for the president's revitalized National Space Council. We must have American sovereignty in space, "the Republican mogul said". The Air Force, after all, is run by pilots, not astronauts.

"Creating a separate service will just add to dysfunction at the Defense Department", he said. A full-fledged space force would cost significantly more, but no one knows how much yet.