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Trump signs order to create ‘critical’ US Space Command

The move comes amid growing concerns that China and Russia are working on ways to disrupt, disable or even destroy US satellites.

Donald Trump (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Donald Trump (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Donald Trump has launched the Pentagon’s new Space Command, an effort to better organise and advance the military’s vast operations in space that could cost as much as 800 million dollars (£632 million) over the next five years.

The president signed a one-page memorandum authorising the Department of Defence to create the new command.

The goal is to set up a command to oversee and organise space operations, accelerate technical advances and find more effective ways to defend US 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 US 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 organisation.

According to one source, 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 dollars 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.

Army Lieutenant Colonel 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 leaders for Space Command, including a four-star general and a deputy.

The command would probably at least begin to take form in Colorado, where the Joint Functional Component Command for Space is already located, but there has been no final decision on a location for the new command.

Funding will be included in the budget for fiscal year 2020, which will be unveiled in February.

Mr Trump’s order accelerates what has been a decades-long effort to reorganise and improve the military’s technological advances in space, which at times has got less attention as the Air Force has focused on warplanes and other combat priorities.

PA

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