Trump signs order to create US Space Command

President Donald Trump launched the Pentagon’s new Space Command Tuesday, an effort to better organize and advance the military’s vast operations in space that could cost as much as $800 million over the next five years.

Trump signed a one-page memorandum Tuesday authorizing the Department of Defence to create the new command.

The goal is to set up a command to oversee and organize space operations, accelerate technical advances and find more effective ways to defend U.S. assets in space, including the vast constellations of satellites that American forces rely on for navigation, communications and surveillance. The move comes amid growing concerns that China and Russia are working on ways to disrupt, disable or even destroy U.S. satellites.

The new order is separate from the president’s much touted goal of creating a “Space Force” as an independent armed service branch, but is considered a first step in that direction. The memo provides little detail on what will be a long and complicated process as the Defence Department begins to pull together various space units from across the military services into a more co-ordinated, independent organization.

According to one U.S. official, the command would pull about 600 staff from existing military space offices, and then add at least another 1,000 over the coming years. The roughly $800 million would mainly cover the additional staff. The costs for the existing staff would just transfer to the new command, but that total was not immediately available.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations not yet announced.

Read more: Pence outlines plan for new Space Force by 2020

Read more: White House closer to partial shutdown with wall demand

Army Lt. Col. Joe Buccino, spokesman for Deputy Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan, said that establishing Space Command is “a critical step in accelerating our space capabilities and posture to defend our vital national interests and deter our adversaries. This combatant command will lead space operations and develop space warfighting doctrine, tactics, and techniques.”

He added that the Pentagon will continue to develop a legislative proposal to meet the president’s vision for a space force.

The first steps next year will be to nominate top leaders for Space Command, including a four-star general and a deputy. The command would likely at least begin to take form in Colorado, where the current Joint Functional Component Command for Space is already located. But there has been no final decision on a location for the new command.

Funding for the command will be included in the budget for fiscal year 2020, which will be unveiled in February.

Trump’s order accelerates what has been a decades-long effort to reorganize and improve the military’s technological advances in space, which at times has gotten less attention as the Air Force has focused on warplanes and other combat priorities.

The military’s role in space has been under scrutiny because the United States is increasingly reliant on orbiting satellites that are difficult to protect. Satellites provide communications, navigation, intelligence and other services vital to the military and the national economy.

Over the past year, the issue gained urgency amid growing competition and threats from adversary nations.

U.S. intelligence agencies reported earlier this year that Russia and China were pursuing “nondestructive and destructive” anti-satellite weapons for use during a future war. And there are growing worries about cyberattacks that could target satellite technology, potentially leaving troops in combat without electronic communications or navigation abilities.

A U.S. Space Command existed from 1985 to 2002, but was disbanded in the aftermath of the 9-11 terrorist attacks so that U.S. Northern Command could be established, focusing on defence of the homeland.

Although Space Command went away, its functions remained and were absorbed by U.S. Strategic Command. The Air Force retained its lead role in space through Air Force Space Command. That existing space command will be a key component of the new joint entity, raising space to the same status as other headquarters such as U.S. Cyber Command, Special Operations Command or Strategic Command.

The new Space Command will also pull from existing units in the other services, such as the Army Space and Missile Command and the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command.

Officials said the process of breaking away parts of other organizations and moulding them all into a new command will be done carefully, to ensure it’s done correctly without jeopardizing any ongoing operations or activities.

Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Central Saanich changes incentives for housing developments

Changes shift incentives for some developments from development cost charges to building permit fees

Five Halloween activities for adults to celebrate the spooky season

Halloween isn’t just for little ghouls in Greater Victoria

VIDEO: Saanich resident shocked when trespasser licks security camera, rummages through mail

‘I found the situation really bizarre,’ said the Gordon Head resident

BC Ferries crew member taken to hospital after getting struck by bow doors

Two sailings between Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay were cancelled

VIDEO: Explosion, fire sends woman running from Saanich home

Heavy smoke in the area, crews on scene

B.C. VIEWS: How to get the best deal on your ICBC car insurance

ICBC slowly being dragged into the 21st century

Pot legalization has gone ‘well’, but ‘yellow flags’ on vaping: task force chair

Canada legalized cannabis for non-medical use on Oct. 17, 2018,

ELECTION 2019: Federal leaders hit final 24 hours of campaign

Many leaders remain in B.C. for the final hours of the campaign

Jack’s Devils beat Quinn’s Canucks 1-0 in NHL brother battle

New Jersey youngster scores first career goal against Vancouver

Two charged after owner’s wild ride through Kamloops in his stolen truck

Crystal Rae Dorrington, 37, and Derrick Ronald Pearson, 32, facing multiple charges

Judge orders credit union’s bank records for Kelowna social worker facing theft allegations

The man is accused of negligence, breach of contract, fraud and a conspiracy with Interior Savings

Leaders pour it on with rallies, boosts for candidates as campaign reaches peak

The federal election campaign has reached a crescendo

Allegations of racism lead to ministry investigation at Vancouver private school

St. George’s School was contacted over what the school describes as ‘deeply offensive behaviour online’

Most Read