The United States Space Command is officially here.
President Donald Trump made the expected announcement yesterday during a Rose Garden speech, adding that before long, the U.S. will establish a sixth branch of the military, U.S. Space Force, for space defense.
"It's a big deal," Trump said in a speech at the White House Thursday (Aug. 29) to unveil the new Space Command (also called SPACECOM). "As the newest combatant command, SPACECOM will defend America's vital interests in space — the next warfighting domain. And I think that's pretty obvious to everybody. It's all about space."
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Trump expressed concern that United States adversaries are "weaponizing Earth's orbits with new technology targeting American satellites." He added that the country needs to use its "freedom to operate in space" to seek and destroy missiles heading towards the United States.
Pending Senate confirmation, U.S. Space Command will be led by John "Jay" Raymond, an experienced hand in space operations. He is the Joint Force Space Component commander and used to be Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations at the U.S. Air Force headquarters.
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The announcement was anticipated in the space community, since Vice President Mike Pence told the National Space Council on Aug. 20 that U.S. Space Command would be ready by the end of the month. This is the Defense Department's 11th unified combatant command; each command serves specific geographic regions or functions.
Trump's idea for a "Space Force" is something he has been talking about for more than a year.
In February, he signed Space Policy Directive-4, directing the Pentagon to create a Space Force. The other military branches Space Force would join are the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.
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Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.