President Trump just laid some more groundwork for his "Space Force" idea.
At a White House ceremony yesterday (May 1) honoring the Army Black Knights college football team, Trump again floated the possibility of creating a new branch of the United States military dedicated to securing American supremacy in space.
"You will be part of the five proud branches of the United States Armed Forces — Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and the Coast Guard," the president told the football players, who were joined by their coach along with West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. Bob Caslen. [The Most Dangerous Space Weapons Concepts]
"And we're actually thinking of a sixth, and that would be the Space Force," Trump added. "Does that make sense? The Space Force, General. You probably haven't even heard that. I’m just telling you now. This is perhaps — because we're getting very big in space, both militarily and for other reasons, and we are seriously thinking of the Space Force."
Trump first mentioned the Space Force idea in mid-March, during a speech to service members in San Diego. The nature and context of those remarks left open the possibility that the president was joking, or merely riffing. But an administration official confirmed a few days later that Trump was indeed serious.
The president "has prioritized space. He recognized the threats that have evolved, and the pace at which they evolve. He's very interested in exploring any options that can provide enhanced capabilities," Kenneth Rapuano, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and global security, said during a hearing of the House Armed Services subcommittee on strategic forces on March 15. "The assessment of the space corps is one of those options that is getting close attention, among others."
The way the U.S. military is currently set up, the Air Force — specifically, the branch's Space Command — is responsible for dealing with conflicts that may arise in the final frontier.
The purpose of Tuesday's event was to present the Black Knights with the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy, which is awarded every year to the Army, Navy or Air Force college football team — whichever service academy performs best in the games the three teams play against each other. You can read the entirety of Trump's speech to the Black Knights here.