Pence: Space Force Will Need $8 Billion Over Next Five Years

Mike Pence at pentagon for space force

ARLINGTON, Va. -- With a target date of 2020 to launch the new Space Force, Vice President Mike Pence encouraged Congress to allocate $8 billion over the next five years to the new Defense branch.

Defense Secretary James Mattis said, as Pence appeared at the Pentagon today, that "space is one of our vital national interests in the sense of our use of space, our operations in space, and it is becoming a contested, war fighting domain and we have got to adapt to that reality."

"It's on par with the air, land, sea, and cyber space domains in terms of it being contested. And it's not a domain in which must - we must be equally prepared as all of those others domains," he said. "It's not longer a new domain. It's a domain, and we've got to be able to compete to deter and to win."

The Defense Department released its Space Force report to Congress today, which was required by the National Defense Authorization Act and welcomed by Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) and Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), chairman and ranking member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces.

“We have been warning for years of the need to protect our space assets and to develop more capable space systems," Rogers and Cooper said in a joint statement. "We are glad that the Pentagon is finally taking these steps in enhancing our space strength. This new report was required by last year’s NDAA legislation and will be helpful in speeding up acquisitions of more advanced systems, as well as giving our space professionals more clout."

"This report is a step in a multi-year process that we think will result in a safer, stronger America," they added, saying they "look forward to the establishment of a much-needed independent Space Force."

Pence today declared "the time has come to write the next great chapter in the history of our armed forces, to prepare for the next battlefield where America's best and bravest will be called to deter and defeat a new generation of threats to our people, to our nation."

"Now, to be clear, the Space Force will not be built from scratch, because the men and women who run and protect our nation's space programs today are already the best in the world. Since the dawn of the Space Age, America has remained the best in space," he said.

The new defense budget includes $1 billion for space defense programs; Pence called for the $8 billion on top of that.

"At the direction of Secretary Mattis, the Department of Defense is fielding a new generation of jam-resistant GPS and communication satellites, and new missile warning satellites that are smaller, tougher, and more maneuverable than ever before," the vice president said. "And while these steps have been vital to our national defense, they're really only a beginning. They're only a beginning of meeting the rising security threats our nation faces in space today, and in the future."

"For many years, nations, from Russia and China, to North Korea and Iran have pursued weapons to jam, blind and disable our navigation and communication satellites via electronic attacks from the ground. But recently, our adversaries have been working to bring new weapons of war into space itself," Pence warned. "...Both China and Russia have been conducting highly-sophisticated on-orbit activities that could enable them to maneuver their satellites into close proximity of ours, posing unprecedented new dangers to our space systems. Both nations are also investing heavily in what are known as hypersonic missiles designed to fly up to 5 miles per second at such low altitudes that they could potentially evade detection by our missile-defense radars. In fact, China claimed to have made its first successful test of a hypersonic vehicle just last week."

"China and Russia are also aggressively working to incorporate anti-satellite attacks into their war-fighting doctrines. In 2015, China created a separate military enterprise to oversee and prioritize its war-fighting capabilities in space. As their actions make clear, our adversaries have transformed space into a war-fighting domain already, and the United States will not shrink from this challenge."

The report calls for the creation of the United States Space Command, the Space Operations Force, the Space Development Agency, and the United States Department of the Space Force.

"We will create a single civilian position reporting to the Secretary of Defense to oversee the growth and expansion of this new branch of the service," Pence said. "And this position will be a new Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space, and this leader will be key to the critical transition to a full independent Secretary of the Space Force in the years ahead."