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Trump Plans to Establish Military Space Command This Week

Pence is scheduled to announce the project on Tuesday during a visit to the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral

President Donald Trump plans to order the establishment of a military space command as part of his efforts to create a new military branch, according to reports on Monday.

The president first announced the U.S. Space Force as a sixth military branch focused on space back on June 18. The Space Command will be a major step toward that goal by becoming the eleventh combined combatant command. The administration plans to announce the command center in the coming days, according to media reports.

Vice President Mike Pence is planning to meet with officials this week to discuss the Space Force program. He will officially announce the space command on Tuesday during a visit to the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, the Associated Press associated.

He is also meeting with officials at the Pentagon to discuss it later in the week.

Pence has been very involved in the project and even detailed a preliminary plan to get the program started by 2020. The vice president previously said the command center would be a step toward launching the Space Force, as CNN noted. But unlike the additional military branch itself, the command center doesn’t need congressional approval.

Related: Trump Creates Space Force

“Creating a new branch of the military is not a simple process,” Pence said when unveiling the plan for the program on August 9. “Our administration will soon take action to implement these recommendations, with the objective of establishing the United States Department of the Space Force by the year 2020.”

Defense officials are nearly finished with a draft proposal for a Space Force that would sit under the Air Force, CNN reported. The possible proposal doesn’t fit exactly with what the president asked for, but it would have many of the same characteristics of a separate service, much the same way as the U.S. Marine Corps operates under the Department of the Navy.

Related: Colbert Attacks Trump’s New ‘Space Force’: Let’s Find Life ‘Before You Try to Kill It’

“I am opposed to President Trump’s proposal for a ‘Space Force,'” House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said in a statement from September. “I am concerned that his proposal would create additional costly military bureaucracy at a time when we have limited resources for defense and critical domestic priorities.”

Congress would eventually need to approve the new military branch or one that sits within an existing branch.

That could prove difficult, with congressional control splitting when the new session starts on January 3. Democrats were able to win control of the House during the midterm elections on November 5.

The U.S. Space Command previously existed but was disbanded from 1985 to 2002. The U.S. Northern Command was established in its place to protect the homeland after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Many of its functions were then absorbed by U.S. Strategic Command and Air Force Space Command.

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