White House, Pentagon Detail Shakeup of Space Enterprise

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August 27, 2018 | Originally published by Date Line: August 27 on

The Defense Department will soon take four major steps toward fulfilling President Donald Trump’s vision for beefing up U.S. space capabilities, with the goal of setting up a new independent branch of the armed forces by 2020, Vice President Mike Pence announced Aug. 9.

In June, Trump ordered the Pentagon to immediately begin the work necessary to set up a “separate but equal” Space Force to oversee the critical warfighting domain.

In an Aug. 9 speech at the Pentagon, Pence said that adversaries such as China and Russia are developing new counter-space capabilities including jammers, missiles and lasers that could threaten critical systems that the U.S. military and intelligence community rely on to carry out their missions.

“The time has come to establish the United States Space Force,” Pence said.The vice president noted that establishing a new military branch will require congressional approval. The Trump administration plans to request funding to set up the organization in its fiscal year 2020 budget request, slated for release in February. It will also push lawmakers to provide statutory authorities for the Space Force in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. White House officials are already in talks with key lawmakers on the issue, Pence said.

In the meantime, a Defense Department report that was released to coincide with Pence’s speech outlined four immediate actions that will be taken to enhance U.S. military space capabilities and warfighting posture.

The most relevant for industry is the creation of a Space Development Agency to help develop and field new capabilities “at speed and scale,” according to the “Final Report on Organizational and Management Structure for the National Security Space Components of the Department of Defense.” The report was mandated by Congress.