(CN) – A United States Space Force will be a reality by 2020, Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday, doubling-down on the administration’s goal of establishing a sixth branch of the armed forces.
“The need is real,” Pence said in a speech at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, citing a report released by the Pentagon this week suggesting that China is “aggressively weaponizing space.”
“Russia too is developing and testing new and dangerous weapons and technologies to counter America’s space capabilities. Our administration is committed to keep America ahead of our adversaries,” Pence said.
The vice president, who serves as chairman of President Donald Trump’s National Space Council, said the Department of Defense is moving forward with initial steps to establish the force.
Trump first floated the idea of a Space Force in March as part of his national security strategy, but offered few specifics. In June, he announced that he was directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon “to establish a Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces.”
“We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force,” Trump said. Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will led the creation of the Space Force, Trump said.
Pence arrived in Texas on Wednesday to mark the one year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey and to help bolster support for Houston Congressman John Culberson, a Republican facing a competitive re-election battle.
His remarks at NASA also focused on establishing a permanent presence on the moon, launching Americans on mars, “and once again explore the farthest depths of outer space.”