WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – President Donald Trump has directed the Pentagon to create a separate branch of the military to handle space, a decision that has gained support by those say space isn’t getting the attention or money it needs.
The Air Force currently manages space for the Pentagon. It plans to conduct 50 space launches this year and already operates 77 satellites in orbit, including GPS satellites which guide everything from high tech weapons to everyday drivers. Nearly 40,000 air force men and women are currently assigned to space, but Trump has told the Pentagon to set up a new branch of the armed services just for space.
“We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force,” said Trump on Monday.
The president’s proposed “Space Force” would be the first new branch of the armed services since the air force was created in 1947.
The American way of war depends on space, which is why potential adversaries like Russia and China have developed anti-satellite weapons. It was a threat brought home in 2007 when China created this vast debris field by shooting down one of its own weather satellites.
General John Hyten, the overall commander of U.S. Space Forces, spoke with 60 Minutes about.
“It was a significant wake-up call to our entire military,” he said. “Until that singular event, I don’t think the broader military realized that that is something we’re gonna have to worry about.”
Doug Loverro, the former head of space policy for the Pentagon, supports the President decision.
“It’s not that the Air Force has done a bad job, but to bring it further, to bring it to where we need it to get to, we really need a service focused on it,” he said.
Less than a year ago Defense Secretary James Mattis wrote a letter saying “I do not wish to add a separate service” for space.
But now his Commander in Chief has spoken, although Congress will have the final say.