US President Donald Trump’s plan for the establishment of a Space Force will be submitted to Congress by the Pentagon in February next year, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has said.
On Wednesday, Shanahan said top officials are working on plans which “we can carry forward in a legislative proposal,” a project that would add a sixth branch to America's massive military and fulfill Trump’s wish to seek US dominance in space.
Shanahan, who has been tasked with leading the project to establish the new military branch, admitted that “we’re really wrestling with the how, of creating a Space Force.”
“Unfortunately sometimes more energy is spent on what are the uniforms going to look like, or the rank structure, than what are the capabilities that we’re going to deliver and how do we go about that,” he said speaking at an Air Force Association conference in National Harbor, Maryland.
“I think for other folks it’s how do we make sure we preserve the important capability that we rely on every single day. The process that we’re going through, it’s not that it’s awkward, there’s a lot of really serious thinking and important trades to conduct,” he stated.
In August, Vice President Nike Pence outlined the Trump administration’s vision for the new military force at a Pentagon speech, telling the audience that the American military must prepare for "the next battlefield" to deter growing competition and threats from Russia and China in space.
Trump had ordered the creation of Space Force in June, arguing the Pentagon needs it to tackle vulnerabilities in space and assert US dominance in orbit.
The US military presently consists of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. Currently, the Air Force oversees most space capabilities.
The cost, makeup and organization of Trump’s Space Force has not been finalized yet. According to the Air Force, the sixth branch of the military could cost about $13 billion over five years, including $3 billion for the first year and $10 billion over the following four years. The Space Force would also need about 13,000 new personnel.
Shanahan said the Space Force headquarters “will be lean, with every possible resource devoted to enhancing our capabilities.”
“Over a very short period of time it’s been thrust upon us to create and grow a new organization. It’s been since 1947 that an exercise like this has been undertaken. So the playbook is out of date,” he said.
Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, then expressed confidence that while there will be many hurdles but “we’re a team and we’ll solve it as a team.”
“Together we’re working to create a Space Force, which as you might imagine is a complicated process. But while there's plenty of debate about the how, we are united by the why, protecting our economy and deterring our adversaries,” he said.