Pence Renews Administration Push for Space Force

Vice President Mike Pence hosts a meeting of the National Space Council on Ft. Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C., Oct. 23, 2018. The Council members included US Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, US Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan, and the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff USAF Gen. Paul J. Selva. DOD Photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith.

Vice President Mike Pence Tuesday made a push for the Trump administration’s proposal to set up a Space Force as the nation’s sixth military service, promoting the idea at a meeting of the National Space Council after discussing it with Washington Post reporter Robert Costa during an event sponsored by that newspaper.

Pence’s remarks come as the administration increasing its attention on the proposal, which it expects to include in next year’s defense authorization act. An internal Defense Department memorandum, reviewed earlier this week by Air Force Magazine, outlines a plan to create a lean new service created from staff and commands now in existing military services.

Pointing to past studies that have called for reform of US space capabilities, Pence said it is time to “stop studying the problem and start fixing it.” The administration believes, he said, the establishment of the Space Force is “central to the solution that America needs.”

“The time has come to write the next great chapter in the history of the armed forces of the United States,” he added. The Space Force will “ensure a new era of American supremacy in space, but there is much work to do.”

He warned that while other countries increasingly are able to operate in space, “not all of them share our commitment to freedom, to the rule of law, and to peace through strength.”

The remarks came as the White House announced it had received six recommendations from the space council on how best to establish the new military service.

The recommendations are similar to those contained in a congressionally mandated report released in August when Pence outlined the administration’s plan to set up the new service. They include:

  • Setting up a unified US Space Command
  • Establishing the Space Force itself
  • Calling on Congress to authorize the new service and provide funding for the new command
  • Having the Space Council and the National Security Council conduct a review of current space operational authorities for meeting national security objectives “informed by DOD’s assessment of the authorities required”
  • Setting up a Space Development Agency to ensure access to “cutting-edge warfighting capabilities”
  • Working with the intelligence community to improve cooperation on space capabilities and operations.

A September internal Air Force memo said the Space Force would cost $13 billion over the five-year Future Years Defense Program, but Pence headed off any fiscal concerns by asking, “What is the price tag that you place on security of the United States of America?” He also noted that much of the establishment of the new service would involve consolidating existing functions.

He said he thought the reason that Americans are “so enthusiastic about Space Force” is that “they understand that for us to continue to provide for the common defense, to protect America’s interest, to stand for freedom in the world, that we have to continue to extend American strength into the outer reaches of space.”