Vice-President Mike Pence announced plans Thursday for a new, separate U.S. Space Force as a 6th military service by 2020 to ensure America's dominance in space amid heightened completion and threats from China and Russian Federation.
On Thursday, Mattis appeared alongside Pence at his speech to back the formation of the Space Force as a military branch.
"Both China and Russian Federation have been conducting highly sophisticated "on-orbit" activities that could enable them to maneuver their satellites into close proximity with ours, posing unprecedented new dangers to our space systems", Pence said.
Mike Pence said the United States "will always seek peace in space as on the earth" but warned America would not "shrink from this challenge".
The U.S. military is not new to the space game. He quoted Trump in saying that this was unacceptable and that "We must have American dominance in space".
Given the stakes surrounding building a new branch of the military, the issue is likely to be a political football.
Based on the wording of the email, it doesn't sound like this would be for the official Space Force program - more like Space Force gear the campaign wants to peddle to anyone courageous enough to buy it. Dare we say wear it, too? But the Air Force's growth took place while it was still the Army Air Corps; its current status was only granted afterward.
David Cicilline, who sits in the House of Representatives, asked if "no Republican" would tell the president "what a dumb idea Space Force is". He hailed a new report by the Pentagon on the force as a starting point. Initially an assistant secretary of defense for space, this position will be "key to the critical transition to a fully indecent Secretary of the Space Force in the years ahead", said Pence.
The Pentagon's report, which was provided to Congress shortly before Pence's speech, also seeks to establish a new acquisition agency, the Space Development Agency, "charged with rapidly developing and fielding next-generation capabilities", not unlike the role the Missile Defense Agency plays in missile defense.
The first chance to implement any of this will be in the 2020 budget. Oh, and it's only going to cost taxpayers $8 billion. "And in the realm of outer space, the United States Space Force will be that strength". Pence also mentioned reconnaissance satellites. Those satellites handle intelligence and surveillance, as well as command, control and communication, among other things.
Without any new legislation and using existing authorities, DoD will establish several of the component parts of the Space Force. "This is a critical step toward's establishing the Space Force as the sixth branch of our armed forces".
President Donald Trump holds up the space policy directive that he signed during a National Space Council meeting in Washington, June 18, 2018.