WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump directed the Defense Department on Monday to begin the process of establishing the “Space Force” as the sixth branch of the U.S. military.
“We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the ‘Space Force,’ ” Trump said. “Separate but equal.”
Trump’s call came amid a speech laying out the U.S.’ future in space, one that the president said would be marked by American dominance.
“Our destiny beyond the Earth is not only a matter of national identity, but of national security,” Trump said. “So important for our military.”
Monday is not the first time that Trump has mentioned the prospect of the space force.
In May, Trump initially mentioned the prospective new branch during a ceremony presenting the Commander-in-Chief trophy to the U.S. Military Academy’s football team.
“We’re getting very big in space, both militarily and for other reasons, and we are seriously thinking of the Space Force,” Trump said.
The U.S. military’s forays into space are currently carried out by the Air Force, which operates a Space Command “to provide resilient and affordable space and cyberspace capabilities for the Joint Force and the Nation.”
In addition to the creation of a new military branch, Trump said the U.S. will expand its commitment to space travel, including a return to the moon and a mission to Mars.
Trump added that he is also open to private companies making strides in the arena, as long as they are American.
“If you beat us to Mars, we’ll be very happy and you’ll be even more famous … as long as it’s an American rich person, that’s good,” Trump quipped. “They can beat us. We’ll save a little money and they can beat us and we’re taking full credit for it. Don’t worry about it.”
Chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White later commented about the creation of a space force.
“We understand the President’s guidance. Our Policy Board will begin working on this issue, which has implications for intelligence operations for the Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy,” she said in a statement. “Working with Congress, this will be a deliberate process with a great deal of input from multiple stakeholders.”