27Oct2018

Space Force Plan Moves Forward Amid Heightened Fears

The National Space Council today pushed forward recommendations to raise the profile of military space activities, first a combined U.S. Space Command and eventually through a separate Space Force.

National Space Council meeting

Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao flank Vice President Mike Pence during a meeting of the National Space Council at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. (C-SPAN Video)

Vice President Mike Pence, the council’s chairman, argued that more military resources will have to be directed toward space, in part due to challenges from China and Russia. “Today, space is fundamentally different than it was a generation ago,” he said. “What was once desolate and uncontested is increasingly crowded and confrontational. And today, other nations are seeking to disrupt our space-based systems and undermine our economic and military might as never before.”

Pence highlighted potential ranging from threats from anti-satellite weapons and airborne laser systems to on-orbit satellite interference and hypersonic weapons. At a forum presented by The Washington Post just before today’s council meeting, Pence underscored the Trump administration’s view that preserving U.S. assets in space “will require a military presence.”

During his Q&A with Post reporter Robert Costa, Pence noted that space nuclear weapons are banned under the terms of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. But he wasn’t willing to say whether that ban would always be observed.

The National Space Council today pushed forward recommendations to raise the profile of military space activities, at first through a combined U.S. Space Command and eventually through a separate Space Force. Vice President Mike Pence, the council’s chairman, argued that more military resources will have to be directed toward space, in part due to challenges from China and Russia.

Image result for Space Force Plan

Trump is likely to put the recommendations into a future space directive

“Today, space is fundamentally different than it was a generation ago,” he said. “What was once desolate and uncontested is increasingly crowded and confrontational. And today, other nations are seeking to disrupt our space-based systems and undermine our economic and military might as never before.”

Pence highlighted potential ranging from threats from anti-satellite weapons and airborne laser systems to on-orbit satellite interference and hypersonic weapons. At a forum presented by The Washington Post just before today’s council meeting, Pence underscored the Trump administration’s view that preserving U.S. assets in space “will require a military presence.”

During his Q&A with Post reporter Robert Costa, Pence noted that space nuclear weapons are banned under the terms of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. But he wasn’t willing to say whether that ban would always be observed.

The council unanimously approved six recommendations to the president during today’s meeting at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. Those recommendations include:

  • Forming a combined U.S. Space Command to oversee military space operations. The U.S. Air Force already has a Space Command, but the newly formed command would take in activities across all military branches, following a model similar to that used for the Special Operations Command or the Cyber Command.
  • Making preparations to establish the Space Force as a separate branch of the military.
  • Calling on Congress to authorize the formal establishment of the Space Force and approve funding for the Space Command. Pence said the White House wants the go-ahead for the Space Force to be included in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2020.
  • Launching a review of existing space operational authorities, conducted jointly by the National Space Council and the National Security Council.
  • Creating a Space Development Agency to enhance warfighting capabilities in space. Space-related military development projects, such as the Boeing-built Phantom Express space plane, currently fall under the purview of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA.
  • Creating collaborative mechanisms with the U.S. intelligence community to improve coordination of space capabilities and operations.

Trump is likely to put the recommendations into a future space directive, and the details are likely to be worked out over the months ahead during discussions involving the Pentagon and Congress.Adapted: Geek Wire

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