Donald Trump launches US Space Force
US president achieves long-held goal as final frontier arms race ramps up
Donald Trump has launched a new Space Force to combat the growing threat posed by Russia and China, the first new US military service in more than 70 years.
Unveiled as part of a $1.4tn (£1.1tn) government defence spending package, the move is being touted by White House officials as “a historic step”.
“Space is the world’s new war-fighting domain,” Trump said during a signing ceremony outside Washington. “Among grave threats to our national security, American superiority in space is absolutely vital. And we’re leading, but we’re not leading by enough, and very shortly we’ll be leading by a lot.”
“Space force has been a reliable applause line at Trump’s political rallies, but for the military it is seen more soberly as an affirmation of the need to more effectively organise for the defence of US interests in space,” says The Guardian.
Comprised initially of 16,000 US Air Force and civilian personnel, the new branch of the Pentagon is not intended to put troops into orbit, but will protect US assets such as the hundreds of satellites used for communication and surveillance.
Warning the two nuclear powers had airborne lasers and anti-satellite missiles that the US needed to counter, Vice-President Mike Pence has previously said “the space environment has fundamentally changed in the last generation. What was once peaceful and uncontested is now crowded and adversarial.”
In response, earlier this month, Russia's President Vladimir Putin suggested US expansion in space posed a threat to Russian interests, and required a reaction from Moscow.
A long-held goal of Trump’s administration, the establishment of a dedicated space force has however been strongly opposed by Democrats and many of the military’s top brass as a bureaucratic vanity project.
“The Space Force that has emerged isn’t quite the what the president envisioned (a ‘separate but equal’ service that operated completely independently of the Air Force), but it does represent a success for the president in a week that saw his impeachment,” says Vox.
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