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VP Pence announces Space Force countdown at Pentagon with Mattis

Vice President Mike Pence made a surprise visit to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan Dec. 21, 2017 (Department of Defense/Released)
August 09, 2018

On Thursday morning, the Pentagon held a formal event to begin the countdown for President Trump’s proposed Space Force.

Vice President Mike Pence visited the Pentagon where he launched the countdown of the sixth military branch, the Space Force, according to a Washington Examiner report on Thursday. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was also on-hand to address reporters.

Pence discussed the administration’s plans, as well as future plans of U.S. military activities in space.

The event was live-streamed by the Pentagon, at this link.

Here is another livestream of the event:

Mattis is expected to also make remarks at the event, although he has opposed the Space Force in the past.

Last year, Mattis wrote in a memo to Sen. John McCain that he did not agree with “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,” the Washington Post reported.

Last year’s proposal suggested integrating a “Space Corps” within the Air Force, but the measure was abandoned due to opposition from military leaders.

This week, however, Mattis said: “We are in complete alignment with the President’s concern about protecting our assets in space to contribute to our security, to our economy, and we’re going to have to address it as other countries show a capability to attack those assets.”

“I don’t have all the final answers yet. We’re still putting it together,” Mattis added.

In June, President Trump ordered the Pentagon “to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a Space Force as the sixth branch of the Armed Forces.”

“We are going to have the Air Force, and we are going to have the Space Force — separate but equal,” he added.

Although Congress would need to approve the structure of a separate, new military branch, Mattis said establishing a combatant command for space “is certainly one thing that we can establish.”

Mattis referred to Vice President Pence as “the point man” on the Space Force issue, according to CNN.

The Pentagon will release a report, as required by Congress, that will include recommendations for approaching space as a military domain. The report was originally scheduled for release on Aug. 1, but was delayed due to ongoing revisions.

A draft of the Pentagon’s report was acquired by Defense One, who reported that a four-star general would be at the helm of a combatant command for space, while an agency would be tasked with procuring satellites.

The potential for contested territory or conflict over assets has been speculated for years by the Pentagon. Concerns were raised when China launched a missile into space in 2007, destroying one of its nonfunctional weather satellites. Several years later, they launched another missile deeper into space where sensitive U.S. satellites are often positioned.

Air Force Sec. Heather Wilson said last month: “There’s not a mission today that we do in the military that doesn’t in some way depend upon space.”

“We have to adjust and make sure that we can defend what we do in space and deter anyone from challenging us there,” she added.