After months of debate and conjecture, President Trump announced on Monday that he would direct the Pentagon to establish a sixth branch of the United States military tasked specifically with space based and orbital defense. This new branch, which will take on the space role currently occupied by the Air Force’s Space Command, has seen support and criticism from bipartisan lawmakers and defense officials alike. At a Monday meeting of the National Space Council President Trump said,
I am hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a space force as the sixth branch of the armed forces. Our destiny beyond the Earth is not only a matter of national identity but a matter of national security.”
While most parties associated with America’s defense apparatus agree that orbital defense is a significant concern, not all agree that the establishment of a space-specific branch is the most effective means of addressing the growing threat posed by foreign competitors. Defense Secretary James Mattis, in particular, has voiced his concerns about the logistical and administrative overhead required for the establishment of a new branch.
“We are going to have a space force,” Trump said. “An Air Force and a Space Force. Separate, but equal.”