Pence aims for Space Force authorization after midterm elections
By Tom Risen|October 23, 2018
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday shared details of the administration’s strategy for creating a Space Force as a sixth military branch, saying the White House would seek funding for the force in its 2020 budget proposal and pursue legislation to create it in the annual defense authorization.
In the morning, Pence attended a space policy discussion co-hosted by the Washington Post and AIAA. During a question-and-answer session with Post reporter Robert Costa, Pence said he was hoping for bipartisan support for the Space Force plan, but suggested that the administration might not need it “when we re-elect those Republican majorities in Congress.”
Pence said the sixth branch would defend against “anti-satellite technology” being developed by other nations.
Hours later and across town at the National Defense University, Pence told the National Space Council advisory body that the goal was to have the sixth military branch approved by Congress in the next National Defense Authorization Act.
“Our administration is already working with members of both parties,” Pence told the assembled lawmakers and U.S. civil and military space officials. Pence in August unveiled the Pentagon’s report proposing steps to create the Space Force, which he said during the council meeting would “organize, train and equip space forces, including both combat and service support functions for both offensive and defensive operations.”
Also at the space council meeting, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said creating a Space Force would safeguard the space interests of civilians and companies from every nation. The worldwide “$383 billion-dollar industry that is in space is going to need security,” Bridenstine said, citing the Colorado-based nonprofit Space Foundation’s estimate for the worth of the global space economy as of 2017.
“The enemies of our country have identified space as the American Achilles’ heel,” Bridenstine said. “We’ve got to make sure they understand that they will receive no advantage from attempting to deny space for anybody in the world.”