President TrumpDonald John TrumpAdvocate calls for fundamental shift in criminal justice system Shame on Europe at the G-7 Senate GOP pledges to oppose any efforts to ‘pack’ Supreme Court MORE on Thursday launched U.S. Space Command, a new combatant command that represents a key milestone on the president’s quest to have a Space Force.
“The dangers to our country constantly evolve and so must we. Now, those who wish to harm the United States, to seek to challenge us in the ultimately high ground of space — it’s going to be a whole different ballgame,” Trump said during a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden.
“The establishment of the 11th combatant command is a landmark moment. This is landmark day, one that recognizes the centrality of space to America’s national security and defense,” Trump added.
After Trump’s speech, Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Trump officials say children of some overseas service members won’t get automatic citizenship | Defense chief, top general hold first on-camera briefing in a year | Mattis warns against shunning US allies Top general says ‘disruption to status quo’ needed in Afghanistan Congress must put the Space Force on the right trajectory MORE signed the paperwork formally establishing Space Command, and the new command’s flag was unfurled.
U.S. Space Command, which previously existed from 1985 to 2002, is being re-established as part of the Trump administration’s broader effort to reorganize how the U.S. military handles space. U.S. officials argue the military needs to put a greater emphasis on space to compete with Russia and China, which have tested anti-satellite weapons and taken steps to create their own space forces.
The administration’s efforts include continued work to establish a new military branch called Space Force, an idea that must be approved by Congress.
Both the House and the Senate included some type of a space military branch in their versions of the annual defense policy bill this year, making the creation of some form of new military service likely once the two chambers reconcile their bills.
Space Command “is an important step to support the space warfighting domain and ensures our strategic competitors, Russia and China, realize we are serious about implementing our National Defense Strategy,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeSenate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Democrats, environmentalists blast Trump rollback of endangered species protections Bottom Line MORE (R-Okla.) said in a statement Thursday. “The next step is establishing the United States Space Force, which we are working on as part of the final National Defense Authorization Act.”
The creation of Space Command (Spacecom) is seen as an interim step on the way to Space Force.
“Spacecom will soon be followed, very importantly, by the establishment of the United States Space Force as the sixth branch of the United States Armed Forces, and that’s really something when you think about it,” Trump said during the Rose Garden ceremony.
Space Command, the first combatant command stood up since U.S. Africa Command in 2009, will be responsible for planning and executing space operations. It will start with 87 units with capabilities focused on missile warning, satellite operations, space control and space support, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford said last week.
The command will be led Gen. John Raymond, who was confirmed by the Senate in June. Raymond is already the commander of Air Force Space Command and will now be dual-hatted in both that role and commander of U.S. Space Command.
Trump called Raymond a “highly respected” man who he knows “is going to a do a fantastic job.”
“Under Gen. Raymond’s leadership, Spacecom will boldly deter aggression and outpace America’s rivals by far,” Trump said.
Raymond, in turn, said Trump’s hosting the Space Command launch “honor[s] the airmen, sailors, soldiers and Marines that secure our high ground for our nation.” Raymond gave Trump a plaque marking Space Command’s establishment.