Trump signs order to create US Space Command

President Donald Trump signs an executive order to create a U.S. Space Command.

FILE -In this Dec. 3, 2018, file photo, photo provided by the U.S. Air Force, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, carrying the Spaceflight SSO-A: SmallSat Express, launches from Space Launch Complex-4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (Senior Airman Clayton Wear/U.S. Air Force via AP, File)

FILE -In this Dec. 3, 2018, file photo, photo provided by the U.S. Air Force, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, carrying the Spaceflight SSO-A: SmallSat Express, launches from Space Launch Complex-4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (Senior Airman Clayton Wear/U.S. Air Force via AP, File)

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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chief Joe Alphonse
OP-ED: Williams Lake municipal, regional councils lack awareness on historical trauma

Systemic racism isn’t always obvious to those that are not experiencing it

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

The City of Williams Lake is asking for public feedback on whether it should explore the opportunity to host a Greater Metro Hockey League team in Williams Lake. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake GMHL expansion questions, concerns, to be discussed later this month

If approved, the team would begin play in the fall of 2021

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Second death reported in Kelowna General Hospital COVID-19 outbreak

A total of seven cases have been identified at the hospital: six patients and one staff

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

(File photo)
Kamloops Mountie bitten while arresting woman

The assault on March 1 is the latest in a string of incidents that have left local officers injured

Most Read