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Trump Orders Creation of 6th Military Branch: 'Space Force'

It's not clear whether he can do so without congressional approval
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2018 3:48 PM CDT
Vice President Mike Pence listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting of the National Space Council in the East Room of the White House, Monday, June 18, 2018, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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(Newser) – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard ... and Space Force? President Trump, speaking at a meeting of the National Space Council at the White House Monday, ordered the Pentagon to create a sixth branch of the military, Politico reports. "We are going to have the Air Force, and we are going to have the Space Force, separate but equal," Trump said. "It is going to be something so important." He specifically asked Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford to oversee the process. "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 continued. "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."

Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat and former astronaut, quickly tweeted that generals "don't want" a space force. But some, including two Republican members of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, backed the initiative. Congress proposed, but ultimately rejected, a move to create a Space Corps within the Air Force while debating the fiscal 2018 defense policy bill; the House proposes the creation of a US Space Command in its version of the fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, but it's not clear if that will remain in the final version of the bill. Neither of those proposals, however, is quite the same as the creation of a standalone Space Force military service, an idea Trump first proposed in March. CNN notes that such an idea has "drawn skepticism" from the Pentagon in the past, and the Washington Post says experts have pointed out Trump can't create a new branch of the military without congressional approval. (Read more President Trump stories.)

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