Trump orders creation of a stand-alone Space Force

President Donald Trump on Monday ordered the Pentagon to establish a stand-alone Space Force as a new branch of the armed forces.

“We are going to have the Air Force, and we are going to have the Space Force, separate but equal,” Trump said at a meeting of the National Space Council at the White House.

“It is going to be something so important.”

He also asked Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford to carry out the process of standing up the new military service.

“Our destiny beyond the earth is not only a matter of national identity, but a matter of national security, so important for our military and people don’t talk about it,” Trump said. “When it comes to defending America, it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space, we must have American dominance in space.”

The move quickly drew some backlash from one key senator, who said the president was overstepping his bounds by unilaterally calling for the creation of a new military service.

“The president told a US general to create a new Space Force as 6th branch of military today, which generals tell me they don’t want,” Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), a former astronaut, wrote on Twitter.

“Thankfully,” he added, “the president can’t do it without Congress because now is NOT the time to rip the Air Force apart. Too many important missions at stake.”

Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) also pointed out that establishing a new military branch requires congressional action.

“Congress has asked DoD to study how we handle space. We still don’t know what a Space Force would do, who is going to be in it, or how much is it going to cost,” Turner said. “After we get the report that we required as a legislative body and the president signed off on, then this issue can be appropriately evaluated for what’s best for national security.”

A Senate Armed Services Committee staffer confirmed the committee was not notified in advance that Trump would make his announcement.

Other lawmakers, however, applauded the move, including two members of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee — Reps. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), chairman of the subcommittee and a long-time champion of breaking space missions out of the Air Force.

“I am thrilled to have President Trump’s continued support for this critical mission to help strengthen our national security,” Rogers said in a statement. “I look forward to working with the president to make this initiative a reality.”

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