Vice President Mike Pence and Pentagon officials announced Tuesday that the U.S. Space Command will officially launch next week.
At a National Space Council meeting on Tuesday, Pence said that a “key step in creating the newest branch of the military would happen next week,” on Thursday, Aug. 29, and will be the start of what is being called the Space Force, according to a report by USA Today.
“The United States Space Force will ensure that our nation is prepared to defend our people, defend our interests, and to defend our values in the vast expanse of space and here on Earth with the technologies that will support our common defense for the vast reaches of outer space,” Pence said.
“Establishment of the Space Force still requires congressional funding and authority,” USA Today noted, but it is a step Pence said would happen soon.
Air Force Gen. John “Jay” Raymond has been confirmed by the Senate as its first leader.
Raymond’s title will be: Commander, United States Space Command (USSPACECOM). He will also remain as the Commander, Air Force Space Command, Peterson AFB, CO.
Gen. Raymond’s comments
During his nomination hearing with Congress, Raymond wrote answers posed by lawmakers and provided details on what will be required to get USSPACECOM up and running.
“The challenges in standing up a new Combatant Command are substantial,” Raymond wrote, according to a report by DefenseNews.com. “If confirmed, my first priority will be to ensure the seamless transition of the command and control of critical space capabilities that the nation and the joint force depend on each-and-every day.”
“Simultaneously we need to ensure we take steps to strengthen readiness and lethality as we complete our shift from a permissive environment to a posture for warfighting,” he added.
Raymond also wrote that, “The initial cadre responsible for standing up SPACECOM will be a group of about 642 personnel from U.S. Strategic Command.
“That staff includes all personnel from Joint Force Space Component Command and its distributed space mission operations centers, as well as additional staff that will transfer from U.S. Strategic Command’s headquarters. These personnel are from each branch of the military service and will serve in every Combatant Command functional area,” he wrote, as reported by Defense News.
The idea of a unified Space Force has been kicking around Washington for years, but it never had serious backing and had many doubters in Congress and the military branches.
The Trump administration took a larger look to the future of warfare as it considered new threats from Russia and China – in addition to protecting U.S. space interests and hardware – when deciding to create Space Force. President Trump signed a directive in February to initiate the program.
The U.S. Department of Defense said in a written statement that: “Establishing USSPACECOM is a critical step that underscores the importance of the space domain and its strategic contributions to U.S. national security. The USSPACECOM establishment will accelerate our space capabilities to address the rapidly evolving threats to U.S. space systems, and the importance of deterring potential adversaries from putting critical U.S. space systems at risk.”
Trump said the new branch of the Armed Forces – which will be the sixth branch – is being formed to protect the United States.
During a signing ceremony in the Oval Office in February, Trump had said at the time, “I was put here for security, whether it’s Space Force, which I’m doing today, or whether it’s borders.”