WASHINGTON (CN) – A military force to patrol Earth’s orbit is that much closer to becoming a reality Tuesday after President Donald Trump approved a directive to open a space force under the umbrella of the U.S. Air Force.
The president signed the directive this afternoon during a ceremony in the Oval Office, telling reporters he was elected to protect national security, whether it is in space or “whether it [is on U.S.] borders.”
The development comes just two months after the president signed an executive order calling for the creation of a U.S. Space Command aimed at consolidating all U.S. space operations.
For the directive to take physical shape, however, it must first pass congressional muster with a funding allocation as well as legislative approval.
The U.S. Air Force has put the cost of building a space force at $13 billion over five years. At least $3 billion of this would be needed up front for just the first year of development.
By putting the force under the U.S. Air Force, Trump assigned it a role in greater U.S. military operations similar to how the U.S. Marine Corps is a part of the U.S. Navy.
The Space Force has faced wide criticism for months, as evidenced by an internal U.S. Air Force memo that Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson sent to Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.
As published by the national-security media outlet DefenseOne, Wilson wrote in the letter of concerns that the space force would hamstring other essential military resources.
On Tuesday, Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis jumped at the chance to see Space Force resources take off in his own backyard.
“Today I am formally sending a request to @realDonaldTrump to place the headquarters for the Space Force Combatant Command here in Florida [at] Cape Canaveral,” DeSantis tweeted. “This is part of Florida’s history and is a logical fit for our state.”
To avoid “bureaucratic inefficiencies,” Trump’s directive states that the formation of the force would not include input from NASA or the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration but rather from the Department of Defense.
Both uniformed and civilian personnel will serve as support staff and will perform functions across involving a variety of specialties like intelligence, engineering, science, acquisitions and cyber operations.
“It’s where we’re going,” Trump said. “I suspect whether we like it or not, that’s where we’re going. It’s space. That’s the next step and we have to be prepared.”
Continuing his remarks, Trump noted that the America’s “adversaries” are already up in space. “They’re doing it and we’re doing it,” he said. “And that’s going to be a very big part of where the defense of our nation – and you could say ‘offense’ – but let’s just be nice about it and let’s say [where the] defense of our nation is going to be.”