JUST IN: Pence Vows Space Force Will Become a Reality
Vice President Mike Pence promised that the controversial proposal to create a separate but equal new branch of the military — a U.S. space force — will soon come to pass.
“We are working as we speak with Congress to stand up a sixth branch of our armed forces. The United States space force will soon be a reality,” Pence said May 6 at the Satellite 2019 conference in Washington, D.C.
Pence cited renewed threats to U.S. dominance in space including adversaries such as China, Russia and North Korea jamming GPS signals and communication satellites as well as launching electronic attacks from the ground.
“And recently we have even seen nations bringing new weapons of war into space itself,” he said.
The Trump administration has used existing authorities to announce a unified space command that would be similar to Special Operations Command. However, creating a new military branch will require Congress to pass legislation.
Prior to the conference, 43 former military and intelligence leaders sent an open letter to Congress expressing support for the space force, according to industry publication Space News. Signees included former Defense Secretary William Perry, former Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, former Deputy Defense Secretary Robert O. Work and retired Gen. Larry Welch, former chief of staff of the Air Force.
“Our competitors and our adversaries have been aggressively deploying technologies that put our prosperity and our security at risk,” Pence said. “We recognize that space is a warfighting domain just like the land, air and sea and America is going to be as dominant for our security in space as we are here on Earth,” said Pence, who also chairs the National Space Council.
Pence touted the Trump administration’s progress in improving space situational awareness, which benefits commercial providers and the government alike. It has brought space traffic management under the Department of Commerce.
“We know this policy will encourage companies like yours to develop data sharing systems, technical guidelines ands safety standards,” he said. This will mitigate the possibility of accidents in space during launches and while satellites are in operation, he said.
“We are bringing the data together so companies just like yours have the best, real-time information to navigate space and give the engineers and entrepreneurs here today the tools you need to continue thriving,” he said.
Pence said the Trump administration has worked hard to eliminate red tape and regulations while also streamlining launch licensing requirements that have gotten in the way of innovation in the space industry.
Pence also promised to free up scarce wireless spectrum as the world switches to 5G technology, which he said will revolutionize the way Americans work, run businesses and communicate. “President Trump has made it clear that the race to 5G is a race that America will win,” Pence said.