President Donald Trump on Thursday established U.S. Space Command, now in Colorado Springs, saying “It’s a big deal.”
The Rose Garden ceremony declared the Colorado Springs command to be operational and in control of the space efforts of all armed service branches.
“We will now treat space as an independent region overseen by an independent, unified combatant command,” Trump said before the new command’s flag was unfurled.
Trump has shown an affinity for space issues during his first term, pushing for the new command — temporarily housed at Peterson Air Force Base — and the Space Force, a proposed separate service branch for space troops.
“It’s all about space,” he said in brief remarks that also touted his administration’s boost to Pentagon spending, including a proposed $738 billion for 2020.
Colorado Springs is the nation’s hub for military space efforts, with Air Force Space Command at Peterson and troops who control the nation’s constellation of military satellites at Schriever Air Force Base.
The Pentagon has pushed to boost that profile, adding troops for space missions at Schriever and pushing for a $158 million space operations center at the base in the 2020 military construction budget.
Trump said the new command “will boldly deter aggression and outpace America’s rivals by far.”
The Pentagon has yet to announce a permanent home for U.S. Space Command, which will provide satellite services to troops around the globe while defending America’s space assets and planning for battles that could reach orbit.
Colorado Springs is considered a leading contender to house the command, but Alabama, California and Florida are putting up a spirited fight to draw it from the Pikes Peak region.
The Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce on Thursday issued a statement in its continued push to land the command for the Pikes Peak region.
“Colorado Springs is proud to host U.S. Space Command temporarily,” the chamber said in an email.
Trump dropped no hints for the command’s home base during the 10-minutes ceremony. He did, however, take time to praise Peterson’s Air Force Gen. Jay Raymond, who was picked to lead the new command.
“He’s respected by everybody,” Trump said.
Raymond, who has headed Air Force Space Command, has long been lauded as one of the military’s top space thinkers. As U.S. Space Command’s boss, he’s expected to craft a vision for how the military views space, including new plans for defending key satellites, among them the Global Positioning System. GPS, run from Schriever, was a military navigation and timing system that has come into wide civilian use.
U.S. Space Command is a down payment on bigger Trump administration plans for military space operations.
“Space Command will soon be followed, very importantly by the United States Space Force as the sixth branch of our armed forces,” Trump said.
The Space Force, bringing together satellite troops from across the military, would fall under the Air Force, but have a seat on the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. The new branch would have a similar setup to the Marine Corps, which falls under the Navy.
The new space service has received preliminary approval from the House and Senate, but differences between the chambers need to be hammered out before it is formally approved.
At the White House, Raymond praised the administration’s space moves.
“On behalf of the space warfighters, thank for your leadership,” the general said to Trump.
Trump said the new command is key in stopping wars.
“We know the best way to prevent conflict is to prepare for victory,” he said.
Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240 Twitter: @xroederx