President Trump directs creation of ‘Space Force’ as sixth military branch


President Donald Trump declared Monday he would move to make a new branch of the military focused solely on space.

“I am hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces,” Trump said during a meeting of the National Space Council.

“Our destiny beyond the Earth is not only a matter of national identity but a matter of national security,” Trump said.

The Pentagon and U.S. Air Force did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

He first floated the idea of a Space Force as a part of his national security strategy during a speech on March 13, saying “space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air, and sea.” The president described then how he’d originally coined the term as a joke, while discussing U.S. government spending and private investment in space.

“We have the Air Force, we’ll have the space force,” Trump said in March.

As it turns out, the Space Force sounds a lot like the space corps legislation the Trump administration opposed last year.

In June, the House Armed Services Committee proposed the establishment of a space corps, a new branch of the U.S. military that would fall under the command of the Air Force, in the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA. This latest military service would relate to the Air Force similar to how the Marine Corps serves the Department of the Navy. The space corps would have an area of responsibility that encompasses the vast expanse outside of the Earth’s atmosphere.

At the time, the White House, the Air Force as well as Secretary of Defense James Mattis disapproved of the idea to create a sixth branch of the military.

“I oppose the creation of a new military service and additional organizational layers at a time when we are focused on reducing overhead and integrating joint warfighting efforts,” Mattis wrote in a letter to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees.

While the legislation passed the House, the space corps bid did not make it into the final NDAA bill in November.

The addition of a sixth sister service branch to the U.S. military would be the first in 71 years. The U.S. Air Force is the nation’s youngest branch and was added shortly after World War II.

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