Trump signs defense bill creating $40M Space Force
Washington – President Donald Trump celebrated on Friday the launch of Space Force, the first new military service in more than 70 years.
In signing the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act that includes Space Force, Trump claimed a victory for one of his top national security priorities just two days after being impeached by the House.
It is part of a $1.4 trillion government spending package – including the Pentagon’s budget – that provides a steady stream of financing for Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border fence and reverses unpopular and unworkable automatic spending cuts to defense and domestic programs.
“Space is the world’s new war-fighting domain,” Trump said Friday during a signing ceremony at Joint Base Andrews just outside Washington. “Among grave threats to our national security, American superiority in space is absolutely vital. And we’re leading, but we’re not leading by enough, and very shortly we’ll be leading by a lot.”
Space Force has been a reliable applause line at Trump’s political rallies, but for the military it’s seen more soberly as an affirmation of the need to more effectively organize for the defense of U.S. interests in space – especially satellites used for navigation and communication. Space Force is not designed or intended to put combat troops in space.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters Friday, “Our reliance on space-based capabilities has grown dramatically, and today outer space has evolved into a warfighting domain of its own.” Maintaining dominance in space, he said, will now be Space Force’s mission.
Trump got his Space Force, which many Democrats opposed. But it is not in the “separate but equal” design he wanted.
Instead of being its own military department, like the Navy, Army and Air Force, the Space Force will be administered by the Secretary of the Air Force. The law requires that the four-star general who will lead Space Force, with the title of Chief of Space Operations, will be a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but not in Space Force’s first year. Trump said its leader will be Air Force Gen. John W. Raymond, the commander of U.S. Space Command.
Space Force is the first new military service since the Air Force was spun off from the Army in 1947. Space Force will be the provider of forces to U.S. Space Command, a separate organization established earlier this year as the overseer of the military’s space operations.
Space Force will be tiny, compared to its sister services. It will initially have about 200 people and a first-year budget of $40 million. The military’s largest service, the Army, has about 480,000 active-duty soldiers and a budget of about $181 billion.