During his address at the Salute to America celebration, July 4, in Washington, President Trump welcomed each of the five branches of the American military, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard.
He then made a point of introducing the yet-to-be-formed Space Force, a new military branch that the president said would be created “very soon.”
While the term Space Force may bring to mind images of manned spaceships flying about in the upper atmosphere, it primarily refers to the use of high-earth orbit and low-earth orbit, satellite-based defense systems, intended to compromise or destroy enemy satellites used for communications and weapons guidance systems.
Space-based weapon technology is capable of using directed energy weapons (DEWs) and hypersonic weapons to disable targets.
In April of this year, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan spoke at the 35th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, making a point to emphasize that these military technologies are indeed necessary. “We’re in an era of great power competition, and the next major conflict may be won or lost in space,” Shanahan said.
“Both China and Russia have weaponized space with the intent to hold American space capabilities at risk. China’s communist government has exercised and continues to develop the capability to jam, targeting SATCOM, ISR and GPS. Because of their actions, space is no longer a sanctuary. It is now a war-fighting domain. This is not a future or theoretical threat. This is today’s threat.”
Debate within Congress also began in April, as the Senate Armed Forces Committee held its first hearings to review details of the proposed space program. Congress will need to approve the creation of the first military branch since the establishment of the Air Force in 1947. Setting up an initial command center by 2020 is expected to cost $72 million.
A number of details regarding what the Space Force program should and should not include, relative to other branches of the military, are yet to be determined, as is the proposed program’s working chain of command. However, it is likely that Congress will approve the proposed program in an initial form, so that it can move forward within the next year.