Muslim Times(Web Desk) – US Vice President Mike Pence has called for the establishment of a Space Force by 2020, a plan that would add a sixth branch to America’s massive military and fulfill President Donald Trump’s wish to seek US dominance in space.
Pence told an audience at the US Defense Department on Thursday that the US military must prepare for “the next battlefield” to deter growing competition and threats from Russia and China in space.
“The time has come to write the next great chapter in the history of our armed forces, to prepare for the next battlefield where America’s best and bravest will be called to deter and defeat a new generation of threats to our people, to our nation,” Pence said.
“The time has come to establish the United States Space Force,” he said.
The US military presently consists of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. Currently, the Air Force oversees most space capabilities.
Pence also repeated a call by US President Donald Trump for Congress to invest an additional $8 billion in US space systems over the next five years.
Trump ordered the creation of Space Force in June, arguing the Pentagon needs it to tackle vulnerabilities in space and assert US dominance in orbit.
The Pentagon sent a report to Congress on Tuesday detailing steps towards meeting Trump’s order.
Space plays a vital role in just about every aspect of modern warfare, with many military technologies reliant on a network of orbiting sensors and satellites.
Pence said a powerful and advanced Space Force was essential to counter Russia and China, which are “aggressively” working toward anti-satellite capabilities.
“China and Russia have been conducting highly sophisticated on-orbit activities that could enable them to maneuver their satellites into close proximity of ours, posing unprecedented new dangers to our space systems,” he said.
Its creation however needs the approval of Congress, and the concept has met with some skepticism from lawmakers and Pentagon officials who are concerned about extra bureaucracy and cost.
“Maybe, just maybe, we should make sure our people are not dying because they lack health insurance before we start spending billions to militarise outer space,” Senator Bernie Sanders tweeted.
Democratic Senator Brian Schatz said on Twitter that Space Force “won’t happen.” No Republican is willing to tell Trump it’s a “dumb idea,” the lawmaker from Hawaii added. “It’s dangerous to have a leader who cannot be talked out of crazy ideas.”
On Tuesday, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he fully supported the idea of creating a new US Space Command. “We need to address space as a developing, war-fighting domain and a combatant command is certainly one thing that we can establish,” he said.