18:58 GMT27 January 2020
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    US President Donald Trump on Friday signed the National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA), which, among other things, creates a Space Force - a new branch of the US Armed Forces. This is the first new branch of the US military to be created since 1947, when the US Air Force was established as a separate branch.

    Prior to 1947, US aviation belonged to the Aviation Section of the US Army Signal Corps.

    Similarly, the Space Force is formed from the Air Force’s Space Command, and will initially rely heavily on Air Force bases, equipment and personnel.

    The NDAA act also creates the position of Chief of Space Operations, who will sit on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Trump has appointed Air Force General Jay Raymond to the post.

    The new branch has been given just $40 million by the US Congress, significantly less than the $72.4 million requested by the Pentagon, as many lawmakers remain skeptical over the need to create a separate military branch, citing increased bureaucracy and costs, according to CNN.

    What Will it Do?

    The official language for the Space Force mission remains loose. According to United States Space Force Act, the Space Force will be organized, trained, and equipped to “provide freedom of operation for the United States in, from, and to space" and "provide prompt and sustained space operations.” The list of duties of the Space Force is hardly more precise, saying those will be to: "protect the interests of the United States in space,” “deter aggression in, from, and to space,” and "conduct space operations.”

    While signing the NDAA, Trump noted that it is important to militarize space so as to be able to detect and destroy a missile launched against the United States. Therefore, the Space Force will likely be tasked with seeking out ballistic missiles. Other functions could include oversight of space-based military systems, such as the Global Positioning System (GPS).

    According to Space News, a Space Force is needed so that the US military can respond to an attack on a satellite or other spacecraft.

    What the US Space Force will not do is take over the civil exploration of space or define the national policy on space exploration, Space News says, citing Lt. Gen. David Thompson, vice commander of Air Force Space Command.

    How Many in the Space Force?

    The Space Force is expected to be the smallest branch of the US Military. The first batch will include some 16,000 service members, designated from the Air Force. According to General John Raymond, the commander of US Space Command and Air Force Space Command, those 16,000 will remain in the Air Force, and approximately 5,000 of those will eventually be transferred to the Space Force on a voluntary basis. Support personnel will remain with the Air Force, Raymond said.

    "We want to build this service to be lean and agile, we're going to rely very heavily [sic] support functions from the Air Force," Raymond said Friday.

    It is understood that service members who join the Space Force later will be designated into the Space Force.

    "The Space Force won't be measured by the number of people unlike for instance the Marine Corps, which is really a labor-intensive service," Air Force Secretary Barbara Barret said, according to CNN. "Space Force is much more measured by the technology and the capabilities."

    She pointed out that, despite the crucial status of GPS, only 40 service members of the former Space Command run it.

    Barret, while Air Force, will oversee the Space Force, much like the Navy Secretary oversees the relatively small Marine Corps.

    Bases

    The nascent Space Force will use a number bases currently belonging to the Air Force, including Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, the current home of the Air Force Space Command, and Vandenberg Air Base in California. In order to reflect the new status, the most important bases will be renamed, from Air Force Bases to Space Bases. 

    "We do have a plan to rename the principal Air Force bases that house space units to be Space Bases," Raymond said, adding that it would, "occur in the months ahead and we'll plan that appropriately."

    It is unknown which base will house the US Space Command, but CNN cites a list obtained in April that identified six possible candidates, suggesting those in Colorado, and another two in Alabama and California.

    No Logo, No Uniform, No Branded Identity

    What the newly-formed Space Force lacks for the time being is a branding identity. Unlike its older siblings, the Space Force - with no legacy - has no logo, no special uniform, and no song.

    "There are, as you can imagine, thousands and thousands of actions that are going to have to take place, everything from what does the uniform look like, to the logo, all the way up to who's in the Space Force and who's not in the Space Force," Raymond said. "It's going to be really important that we get this right. A uniform, a patch, a song, it gets to the culture of a service and so we're not going to be in a rush to get something and not do that right.”

    Related:

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    Could Trump’s Proposed Space Force Become a Reality?
    US Air Force Head Mulls Declassifying Secret Programmes to Gain Support for Space Force in Congress
    US National Defence Authorization Act: From Space Force to Trump Wall
    Tags:
    US Space Force (USSF), US Armed Forces
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