Speaking at a meeting of the National Space Council on Monday, President Donald Trump ordered the Pentagon to immediately establish a national “space force” as the sixth branch of the armed forces.
“When it comes to defending America, it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space,” the president said.
“I am hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces,” Trump announced.
“Our destiny beyond the Earth is not only a matter of national identity but a matter of national security,” he added.
BREAKING: “We’re going to have the space force,” Trump says.
He asks General Dunford to oversee creation of sixth branch of the military. pic.twitter.com/sGxyTZ5K4J
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) June 18, 2018
Trump was flanked by Vice President Mike Pence, head of the National Space Council, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who was one of the first two humans, along with Neil Armstrong, to walk on the moon.
The president has floated the idea of establishing a “space force” before, mentioning the idea during a ceremony at the White House last month honoring the Army Black Knights college football team, according to Fox News.
The addition of a sixth branch to the U.S. military would be the first in 71 years, with the U.S. Air Force being the last branch added shortly after World War II.
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