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'Time has come' to create US Space Force, sixth military branch: Pence

AFP  |  Washington 

Vice today unveiled details of plans to create a that would become the sixth branch of America's military, saying the "time has come" to prepare for "the next battlefield."

In June, ordered the creation of Space Force, arguing the needs it to tackle vulnerabilities in space and assert US dominance in orbit.

The creation of Space Force is not a done deal, as it first needs to be approved by , and it has met with some skepticism from lawmakers and defense officials who are wary of the cost and added bureaucracy.

But Pence was unequivocal in presenting the administration's wish for it to become a reality -- preferably by 2020, the end of Trump's term in office. "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 told an audience at the

"The time has come to establish the Space Force." Shortly after Pence's speech, Trump tweeted: "Space Force all the way!" The Pentagon's existing military branches are: the Navy, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Army and Given the stakes about building a new branch of the military, the issue is likely to be a political football.

Currently, the oversees most space capabilities and there is some push back from officials who worry would be duplicative and create turf wars.

But Pence said an independent Space Force was essential to counter and China, which are "aggressively" working toward

"and 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.

The said in a statement that "Trump knows that space is integral to our American way of life and economic prosperity, and is a vital domain for national defense." - -

Pence outlined a series of steps the will undertake ahead of the creation of Space Force.

Key among these is the creation of US Space Command, a new organizational body that would draw in members of existing military branches.

The vast divides the globe into various commands, such as in the or Indo-Pacific Command in Asia, and so a new Space Command would be on an equal footing with these.

It would require a new headquarters and major organizational changes. said this week that Pence is Trump's "point man" for Space Force, and Pentagon officials are working closely with his office. But just last year, Mattis voiced skepticism on the need to create a separate Space Force.

In a letter to a US congressman, he said he did "not wish to add a separate service that would likely present a narrower and even parochial approach to space operations," adding it would create extra bureaucracy and cost.

On Tuesday, however, the Pentagon said he fully supported the idea of creating a new

"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. The Pentagon sent a report to on Tuesday detailing steps towards meeting Trump's order.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, August 09 2018. 23:30 IST