Donald Trump launches US 'Space Force'

21 December 2019, 10:28

US President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump participate in the signing ceremony for the National Defense Authorization Act in Maryland US
US President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump participate in the signing ceremony for the National Defense Authorization Act in Maryland US. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

Donald Trump has officially launched the US Space Force, the first new military service in the country in more than 70 years.

The Space Force, an arm of the US Air Force, will initially have a staff of around 200 and a budget of £30m. It will provide forces to the US Space Command, an organisation formed this year which will oversee the US military’s space operations.

President Trump signed the 2020 National Defence Authorisation Act that includes the provisions for Space Force.

Mr Trump claimed it was victory for one of his top national security priorities just two days after being impeached by the House.

He posted on Twitter: "BIG thank you to Mac Thornberry for a GREAT Defense Deal! Mac has been a champion for our Military and Vets his whole career, and now he can add Space Force to his accomplishments.

"Look forward to another great defense bill next year, Mac!"

The Space Force is part of a 1.4 trillion dollar (£1.05 trillion) government spending package - including the Pentagon's budget - that provides a steady stream of financing for Mr Trump's US-Mexico border fence and reverses unpopular and unworkable automatic spending cuts to defence and domestic programs.

Speaking at a signing ceremony at Joint Base Andrews just outside Washington, Mr Trump said: "Space is the world's new war-fighting domain.

"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 has become increasingly important to the US economy and to everyday life.

The Global Positioning System, for example, provides navigation services to the military as well as civilians.

Its constellation of about two dozen orbiting satellites is operated by the 50th Space Wing from an operations centre at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado.

In a report last February, the Pentagon asserted that China and Russia have embarked on major efforts to develop technologies that could allow them to disrupt or destroy American and allied satellites in a crisis or conflict.

"The United States faces serious and growing challenges to its freedom to operate in space," the report said.

When he publicly directed the Pentagon in June 2018 to begin working toward a Space Force, Mr Trump spoke of the military space mission as part of a broader vision of achieving American dominance in space.

Instead of being its own military department, like the Navy, Army and Air Force, the Space Force will be administered by the Secretary of the Air Force.

The US military's largest service, the Army, has about 480,000 active-duty soldiers and a budget of about £140 billion.