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US Space Force officially established

Donald Trump speaks during an event at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Dec. 20, 2019. Photo: US Air Force

US president Donald Trump signed the $738 billion defense bill into law on December 20, making history by creating the Space Force as a stand-alone, sixth branch of the US military.

The Space Force and parental leave were two of the most high-profile elements of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a law running 1,976 pages that serves as comprehensive, annual blueprint for military spending and policy priorities and operating standards.

“Today [also] marks another landmark achievement as we officially inaugurate the newest branch of the military [United States Space Force], this is a very big and important moment,” said President Donald J. Trump.

In addition to Space Force and paid parental leave, the law calls for a 3.1 percent pay raise for active-duty personnel; it prohibits Turkey from participating in the F-35 program as long as it continues to possess a Russian-made missile system.

It prescribes active-duty strength for all the services while also carrying provisions to improve military housing and health care, purchasing 60 F-35s for the Air Force and thousands of other directives and recommendations.

Trump, who first mentioned the Space Force idea in March 2018 and for whom bringing it to reality was a personal priority, offered a rationale for the first new branch of the military since 1947.

“There are grave threats to our national security,” said Trump. “American superiority in space is absolutely vital. The Space Force will help us deter aggression and control the ultimate high ground.”

Barrett, for example, has made creating Space Force her highest priority since becoming Air Force secretary in October.

Now is the time for a separate service totally focused on organizing, training and equipping for space, she said. While once a wide open “domain” reserved only for the United States and Russia, space today has become far more congested and crowded with other nations and commercial interests actively operating in space. At the same time space has also become a crucial factor in protecting national security and supporting activities of everyday life ranging from cell phone service, GPS, banking and the ability to easily and instantly transmit data anywhere in the world.

“The US Space Force will help the DoD meet the challenges of the future security environment,” a defense department statement said. “Space is integral to national security and our way of life, and this service will posture us to compete, deter, and win in an era of great power competition.”

By creating a new, separate service with a dedicated purpose, the United States hopes to maintain space superiority, even as space becomes more crowded and contested. The new defense law also directs that the Space Force “shall provide the freedom of operation in, from, and to space, while providing prompt and sustained space operations.”