President Trump ordered the creation of a Space Command with a memorandum to the Secretary of Defense on Tuesday. The directive restructures space-related warfare concerns into a new Unified Combatant Command called the United States Space Command and instructs Secretary Mattis to recommend officers to serve as Commander and Deputy Commander of the organization.
A United States Space Command had previously been created under President Ronald Reagan in 1985, but was disbanded in 2002 during a post-9/11 reorganization.
This memorandum does not create the President’s desired new branch of the Armed Services, the Space Force; it does lay the groundwork for it, however, according to Vice President Mike Pence. Pence spoke on the matter at the Kennedy Space Center yesterday, and details were recorded by the Department of Defense website.
“(U.S. Space Command) will develop the space doctrine, tactics, techniques, and procedures that will enable our warfighters to defend our nation in this new era.”
In the future, the U.S. Space Command will become the sixth branch of the armed forces, he said, noting that the administration is working with Congress to stand up the U.S. Space Force before the end of 2020.
According to the Associated Press, a U.S. Government official familiar with the plans stated that the new command would take 600 staff members from existing military space offices with the expectation of another 1000 staffers added over the following years, and would cost approximately $800 million.
The move comes in the wake of the 2018 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the Intelligence Community which, even in its unclassified version, warned:
Both Russia and China continue to pursue antisatellite (ASAT) weapons as a means to reduce US and allied military effectiveness. (…) Military reforms in both countries in the past few years indicate an increased focus on establishing operational forces designed to integrate attacks against space systems and services with military operations in other domains.
It also details efforts by both countries to create missiles, directed-energy weapons and “killer” satellites, all of which the U.S. believes will be operational within the span of a few years.
The re-establishment of Space Command is both justified and, in the view of many defense personnel, long overdue. Space Force, as yet, does not enjoy the same broad-based support among defense and intelligence agents.