Trump Pushes Ahead With 'Space Force' Despite Hurdles It would be under the umbrella of the Air Force to try to simplify the process. This represents a shift; Trump had stated that he wanted a space force that is "separate but equal" from the Air Force.
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Trump Pushes Ahead With 'Space Force' Despite Hurdles

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Trump Pushes Ahead With 'Space Force' Despite Hurdles

Trump Pushes Ahead With 'Space Force' Despite Hurdles

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

President Trump signed a directive this afternoon to create a brand-new Space Force. He envisions an entirely new military branch that would ensure, as he puts it, American dominance in space. NPR national security correspondent Greg Myre looks at how the concept is being received.

GREG MYRE, BYLINE: President Trump likes to boast that the U.S. has the world's strongest military on land, at sea and in the air. But what about space?

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It's the future. It's where we're going. 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.

MYRE: The president spoke in the Oval Office as he signed a directive calling on the Pentagon to draft legislation to create a Space Force. It would be the sixth branch of the military. But some are questioning the cost and the necessity. The Air Force already has something called the Space Command.

BRIAN WEEDEN: Unless there is something that causes a massive expansion in the number of military personnel and the amount of money we spend on space that would justify a new department, I honestly can't see that.

MYRE: Brian Weeden is a former Air Force officer who's now with the nonprofit Secure World Foundation. He does think a shakeup is in order.

WEEDEN: The biggest problem people identify is that the Air Force has not given enough priority to space.

MYRE: The Space Force would be part of the Air Force - at least initially. But Congress has to approve it, and it's not clear how much support Trump's proposal has, especially among Democrats who control the House. The last time Congress created a new military branch was 1947 when it established the Air Force. But Trump's idea is backed by those who say the U.S. military needs to do more in space.

JOHN LOGSDON: I hate to use the word real adversary, but certainly the leading threat to U.S. space capabilities is China.

MYRE: John Logsdon is professor emeritus at the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University.

LOGSDON: I think China has developed the capability to attack our forces in order to defend itself. So whether you call that offensive or defensive, they have the ability to wage an attack against U.S. space assets.

MYRE: The Air Force already handles missile warning systems, satellite communications and GPS systems. And other branches of the military have their own missions in space. The president's Space Force would incorporate them all and get a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

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TRUMP: America must be fully equipped to defend our vital interests. Our adversaries are training forces and developing technology to undermine our security in space.

MYRE: In a memo last fall, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson estimated it would take five years and $13 billion to get the Space Force up and running. Greg Myre, NPR News, Washington.

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