The Space Force Become the Sixth Branch of the U.S. Military

The U.S. Space Force now exists, but it could be months before it has its own troops.

The sixth branch of the U.S. military became reality Friday evening when President Donald Trump signed into law the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, the yearly bill that sets Pentagon policy. The NDAA directs the Pentagon to create the Space Force, which is the first new branch of service since the Air Force was carved out of the Army Air Corps in 1947.

Top Air Force officials on Friday described the Space Force’s birth as a historic moment that signaled how important space operations are to the nation. It comes at a critical time as China and Russia hone their own space abilities and close a capabilities gap in the domain that the United States has long dominated.

“Let there be no mistake, the United States is the best in the world in space today, and today we’re even better,” said Air Force Gen. Jay Raymond, the commander of U.S. Space Command, who has led Pentagon efforts in space for months and who Trump picked Friday to be the first commander of the Space Force. “The United States Space Force will ensure that they compete, deter and win from a position of strength in securing our way of life and our national security.”

Space Force now exists on paper, but it is staffed almost entirely by troops who, for now, will remain in the Air Force. Many other decisions remain about the service, its makeup and its culture. Congress gave the Defense Department 18 months to build the service. Decisions on uniforms, insignia, marketing strategies, rank structure and even who exactly will become a member of the Space Force all have yet to be made.

Those details are “not something we’re going to be able to roll out on Day 1,” Raymond said. “This is really important for our nation. I can’t foot stomp that enough … It’s critical that we get this right.”

Though the concept of an independent military branch focused on space was initially opposed by many in the Pentagon, the idea was championed by Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Eventually, top officials, including secretaries of defense and the Air Force, warmed to the idea, especially once it became clear the service would fit within the Air Force Department, in a way much like how the Marine Corps sits inside the Navy Department.

Courtesy: Stripes

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