In a speech delivered to US Marines today in San Diego, President Donald Trump declared support for the United States developing a new space-based branch of the military, called the "Space Force."

"My new national strategy for space recognizes that space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air and sea," declared Trump. "We may even have a Space Force, we'll develop another one ... we have the Air Force, we'll have the Space Force. We have the army, the navy …"

The idea was initially floated last year when the House Armed Service Committee, led by Republican Chairman Mike Rogers and Ranking Member Democrat Jim Cooper, proposed a new branch of the military called the US Space Corps. The legislation was widely criticized at the time and seen as unnecessary, with a division of the US Air Force, called Air Force Space Command, already essentially serving the function of a military arm devoted to space defenses.

After extensive politicking the US Congress passed the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act in November. The bill ultimately left out the ambitious Space Corps plan being pushed by the House Armed Service Committee, but as well as offering more responsibility and authority to the Air Force Space Command, it did require a road map to be developed over the coming year describing a potential pathway towards a "a separate military department" for space defense.

Many in the military are resistant to the idea of a new space arm, with chief of US Strategic Command, Air Force General John Hyten, suggesting last November that while reform to eliminate bureaucracy is necessary to stay ahead of the Russians and Chinese, the idea of a Space Corps is wholly unnecessary.

"I don't think we need a Space Corps," said Hyten at a security forum in Canada. "I had a boss one time that told me that you don't need a space corps until you've got X-Wing fighters. That's about the timing I think you would need when you get the need for a Space Corps. It just adds more bureaucracy."

Despite Trump's declared support of the idea, it is unclear how much he knows of the progress already made towards his stated goals. In his recent speech he continued on the topic, "You know, I was saying it the other day, because we're doing a tremendous amount of work in space, I said maybe we need a new force, we'll call it the 'Space Force.' And I was not really serious, and then I said, 'What a great idea maybe, we'll have to do that, that could happen.'"

Source: ABC News