Is Space Force real? What you need to know about Trump's latest idea

President Trump has called for a new military branch dedicated to fighting wars in space. How realistic is it?

On June 18, President Trump proposed a "separate but equal" new branch of the United States military: the Space Force, dedicated to fighting galactic wars.

 

But unlike another one of the president's highly publicized, seemingly improvisational ideas — the see-through, solar-paneled border wall — the Space Force moved a step closer to becoming a real thing this week.

 

In a speech on Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence announced plans for the U.S. to establish a space force by the year 2020, drawn from elite members of other military branches, like existing special-ops forces. “Just as we’ve done in ages past, the United States will meet the emerging threats on this new battlefield,” he said at the Pentagon. “The time has come to establish the United States Space Force.”

 

Why a Space Force?

The White House says a space force is necessary to guard against threats from other countries that might try to destroy satellites. China and Russia have tested weapons that could be used for that purpose: China destroyed one of its own satellites in a 2007 test, and Russia revived its defunct space force in 2011. But a U.S. force won't be with anybody unless Congress approves funding, and they already tabled the idea.

 

At least Defense Secretary Jim Mattis showed signs of coming around. Last year, he opposed creating a new military branch “at a time when we are focused on reducing overhead and integrating joint warfighting functions." This week, Mattis said the Pentagon and the White House “are in complete alignment” on the view of space as a potential battleground. But he didn't specifically advocate a Space Force.

Is Space Force real?

In his speech, Pence asked Congress for $8 billion in funding for space security. A full-fledged space force would cost significantly more, but no one knows how much yet.

Also on Thursday, Trump's 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale circulated an email asking supporters to vote on six proposed logos for the force. One of them contains the phrase "Mars Awaits." Another one closely resembles the NASA logo, which didn't escape notice on social media.

The concept of a space force roused Twitter critics ranging from Luke Skywalker to Russia.

Mark Hamill, Star Wars' iconic Skywalker, tweeted:

Russia seemed to mock the logo contest, tweeting one of its own.

 
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