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Mattis has opposed Trump’s ‘Space Force’ as sixth military branch in past

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Mar. 20, 2018. (U.S. Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith/Department of Defense)
June 18, 2018

President Donald Trump on Monday ordered the Pentagon to create a “Space Force,” which would be the sixth branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.

While his order begins the process of establishing the branch, it remains to be seen how the process will take place and what the timeline might be, as well as the budget.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in October of last year wrote a letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee pointing out that he would oppose the creation of what was being called the “Space Corps” at the time. The letter addressed his military budget concerns, as the National Defense Authorization Act had not yet been passed.

“I opposed the creation of a new military service and additional organizational layers at a time when we are focused on reducing overhead and integrating joint warfighting functions,” Mattis wrote.

Mattis has said the military is focused on lethality and eliminating overhead in the past.

President Trump on Monday directed the Pentagon to begin the process of establishing a sixth military branch, the “Space Force.”

Trump, speaking at a meeting of the National Space Council, ordered the establishment of the Space Force.

“I am hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a Space Force as the sixth branch of the Armed Forces,” Trump said. “Our destiny beyond the Earth is not only a matter of national identity, but a matter of national security.”

“We are going to have a space force,” Trump said. “An Air Force and a Space Force. Separate, but equal.”

There are currently five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces: Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard.

This is not the first time Trump has suggested a Space Force, but it is the first time he has ordered that one be established.

President Trump in May had announced that his administration was “seriously thinking” of adding a sixth branch to the United States military called the “Space Force.”

The President previously floated the idea back in March.

“We are actually thinking of a sixth, and that would be the Space Force,” Trump had said.

“We are getting very big in space, both militarily and for other reasons, and we are seriously thinking of the Space Force,” Trump added.

On March 13, the President told an audience of service members at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar that he suggested to his administration the addition of a space force offhandedly, but ultimately took the idea more seriously given the importance of national security.

“Space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air, and sea,” Trump told the crowd. “I said, ‘Maybe we need a new force, we’ll call it the Space Force,’ and I was not really serious. Then I said, ‘What a great idea,’ maybe we’ll have to do that,” the President said.

“So think of that, Space Force,” Trump continued. “Because we are spending a lot and we have a lot of private money coming in, tremendous. You saw what happened the other day, and tremendous success. From the very beginning, many of our astronauts have been soldiers and Airmen, Coast Guard men and Marines. And our service members will be vital to ensuring America continues to lead the way into the stars.”

Much of America’s space endeavors remain privatized through the likes of SpaceX, though the administration has allotted about $20 billion for NASA through 2019.