When President Donald Trump announced that his administration would establish a new branch of the US Military, few would have thought it would be called the Space Force. Well, it is and in fact, the president said during the announcement that the force will be responsible for fighting US enemies in space. However, integrating such a force into the US military was met with skepticism. Some people called the move untenable while others failed to see how the US needed such a force at this particular time. Despite this, the president hasn’t given up on making it a reality and it seems he’s actually ready to start small if needed.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said during an event at the Brookings Institution that the president is expected to sign the Space Policy Directive 4 that could significantly be the first step towards the creation of this force. The directive will essentially establish a space force within the US Air Force. This is a complete departure from the initial White House plan that sought to create the Space Force as a different branch of the US military. If that would have happened, the force would actually be in equal standing with the Air Force, the Army, the Navy, the Coast Guard, and the US Marine Corps.
However, the proposal by the White House was significantly opposed by Democrats and Republicans in Congress. The president had no choice but to dial it down a bit. This is because he has to get approval from Congress to create a new military branch. Things didn’t get easier for Trump after the Democrats took control of the House of Representatives during the midterms last year. In this situation, it would be impossible for him to push his idea through but then again, there’s always a plan B.
Plan B involves getting up a “miniature” force that will be under the command of the Air Force. The department will then be converted into a fully-fledged space force in the future. This explains why the president is still insisting on maintaining the name “Space Force.” According to Gen. Goldfein, although the directive by the president will only establish a small force, there’s no doubt that this is a big step forward. He also noted that the fact that many Americans are having a debate about the possibility of having a space force is a good thing for the country.
The White House had previously suggested that other countries like China and Russia are developing space capabilities with the sole aim of countering US dominance in the area. At one point, Mike Pence even termed space as a “warfighting domain.” But the challenge is to, first of all, understand what the mandate of such a force will be. In addition to this, the funding needed to get the force running will require congressional approval. With Democrats now controlling the House which deals with government appropriations, president Trump might just need to do a lot of convincing for his smaller version of “Space Force.”