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)

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

Four activists face charges linked to 2019 Abbotsford hog-farm protest

Mischief and break-and-enter charges laid for incidents on four separate days prior to the protest

Three men face attempted murder charges after Harrison Hot Springs stabbing

Man, 24, sent to hospital with life-threatening injuries following attack Wednesday

‘Tiny home’ being built for Abbotsford woman with severe allergies

Online campaign raises $59,000 for custom cargo trailer for Katie Hobson

Chilliwack children can get tested locally, Fraser Health confirms

Erroneous information online and via 811 has many families driving to Abbotsford for testing

Face masks will be mandatory for customers at all Walmart locations

Requirement goes into effect on Wednesday, Aug. 12 across Canada

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

B.C. wildfire crews have battled 111 blazes in the last seven days

Twenty-nine fires remain active, as of Friday (Aug 7)

‘We don’t make the rules’: Okanagan pub owner says staff harassed over pandemic precautions

‘If you have six people plus a baby, guess what? That’s seven’ - West Kelowna Kelly O’Bryan’s owner

Remembering Brent Carver: A legend of Broadway who kept his B.C. roots strong

Over the years, the Cranbrook thespian earned his place as one of Canada’s greatest actors

Wrong-way driver triggers multi-vehicle collision on Highway 99 in South Surrey

Police received multiple reports of vehicle heading north in southbound lanes

Statistics Canada says country gained 419,000 jobs in July

National unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July, down from the 12.3 per cent recorded in June

Canada plans $3.6 billion in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. in aluminium dispute

The new Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement that replaced NAFTA went into force on July 1

Canada ‘profoundly concerned’ over China death sentence for citizen in drug case

Police later confiscated more than 120 kilograms of the drug from Xu Weihong’s home

Answers to 5 common questions facing families for the COVID-19 school year

COVID-19 protocols are likely to vary even more at the school board level, and even and school-to-school.

Most Read