President of the United States of America (POTUS) Donald Trump on Monday (June 18), ordered the creation of a sixth branch of the military to focus on space. The new military branch will add to the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard.
The POTUS in ordering the creation of the United States Space Force 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 President added: “we are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force. Separate but equal. It is going to be something so equal.”
The United States is a signatory to the Outer Space Treaty which bars the stationing of weapons of mass destruction in space and only allows for the use of the moon and other celestial bodies for peaceful purposes.
The Treaty (formally the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies) was entered into force in 1967. Besides the USA, 107 other countries are parties to the Treaty.
Although the Treaty bars signatories to the treaty from placing weapons of mass destruction in Earth orbit, installing them on the Moon or any other celestial body (or otherwise stationing them in outer space), it does not prohibit the placement of conventional weapons in orbit and thus some highly destructive attack strategies such as kinetic bombardment are still potentially allowable.
The Treaty also states that the exploration of outer space shall be done to benefit all countries and that space shall be free for exploration and use by all the States.
The President’s idea of a space force has found support with the the US military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, Pentagon as well as NASA.
A Joint Chiefs of Staff official said “space is a war-fighting domain” and that the Joint Chiefs of Staff will work with the Pentagon, Congress, and other stakeholders to follow the president’s guidance.
Dana White, Chief Pentagon spokeswoman said in a statement: “We understand the President’s guidance. Our Policy Board will begin working on this issue, which has implications for intelligence operations for the Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy.”
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said: “As we continue to thrive in space, we also have more people launching to orbit, and an increasingly complex universe of satellites overhead.”
Bridenstine added that the President’s directive provided “guidelines and initiatives to ensure that America is a leader in providing a safe and secure environment as space traffic increases. Common sense space situational awareness and traffic management will be good for our economy and will help provide a more stable environment for the burgeoning space economy.”
The order for the American Space Force though is not cast in stone. The President’s order would still require the budgetary approval of the US Congress, which has been divided on the idea.
“Thankfully, the president can’t do it without Congress because now is NOT the time to rip the Air Force apart. Too many missions at stake,” U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat, said on Twitter.
U.S. Senator Mike Turner, a Republican, has also previously opposed the idea of a Space Force.
A former Marine who is now a farmer in western New York though welcomes the creation of the US Space Force.
In speaking to this publication the ex-Marine, Martin Mescall, said with pride: “My President is starting a Space Force. How cool is that!?”
Mescall may be echoing the sentiments of a large segment of the American population who supports Trump’s call for the US Space Force.