President Trump Signs Defense Bill, Officially Creating Space Force
US creates first new military branch since 1947
President Donald Trump has signed a new defense bill that officially creates a new branch of the US military - Space Force.
President Trump signed the bill at the Joint Base Andrews-Naval Air Facility in Washington, Maryland on Friday.
Flanked by two F-35 fighter jets and in front of a giant American flag, Trump officially created Space Force - the sixth and first new military branch since 1947 - by signing the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.
While the president's critics are quick to dismiss Space Force by conjuring up images of battling aliens in space, the new branch is actually an important part of restructuring the military to defend U.S. interests with aggressive offensive capabilities, as laid out in a plan released to Congress in 2018 by the Department of Defense.
The plan includes systems that could “degrade, deny, disrupt, destroy, and manipulate adversary capabilities,” such as foreign spy satellites, and offers new weapons that could potentially take out ballistic missiles from space.
Other nations are expected to soon follow suit and the force would hold joint space training and military exercises with U.S. allies.
“For the first time since Truman, we will create a brand new American military service,” Trump said during the signing event.
“You will witness the birth of the Space Force. That’s a big moment and we’re all here for it.”
The creation of the Space Force marked the achievement of one of the president’s top national priorities.
“Space is the world’s newest warfighting domain,” Trump added.
“American superiority in space is absolutely vital.”
The new branch will reside inside the Air Force.
The president thanked Vice President Mike Pence for his work in helping to establish the Space Force.
He also announced the appointment of Air Force Gen. John “Jay” Raymond as the new Space Force commander.
“He will now join the Joint Chiefs,” Trump said.
To mark the historic moment, the president signed the bill inside a giant aircraft hangar at the Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland surrounded by an audience of several hundred young service members, Pentagon officials, and other distinguished guests.
Applause for Trump — and some whooping, too: pic.twitter.com/S2lN4MubNw— Kristina Wong 🎄🇺🇸 (@kristina_wong) December 21, 2019
Also in attendance were about a dozen Republican members of Congress: Reps. Mac Thornberry (TX); Joseph Wilson (SC); Mike Rogers (R-AL); Michael Turner (OH); Michael McCaul (TX); Robert Wittman (VA); French Hill (AR); Jack Bergman (MI); Matt Gaetz (FL); Greg Pence (IN); and Michael Waltz (FL).
The military’s top civilian and uniformed leaders were all in attendance, as well as United States Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Lighthizer and White House adviser and First Daughter Ivanka Trump.
First Lady Melania Trump opened the ceremony with remarks, wishing service members and their families a Merry Christmas.
One airman described witnessing the creation of the Space Force as a “historic moment.”
The NDAA, a yearly bill that authorizes the Pentagon’s budget, also established a 3.1 percent pay raise for members of the military, the largest pay raise in a decade.
The bill also pays for scores of new aircraft, tanks, and ships.
It also eliminates the “widow’s tax” for fallen service members and authorizes paid parental leave for federal civilian workers.
The bill also allows for members of the military to sue for medical malpractice in cases after 2017.
The Senate passed the bill on Thursday, sending it to the president.
It authorizes $783 billion for defense spending for the fiscal year 2020.
The bill was passed on a bipartisan basis, 11-81.
With the bill, Trump declared the rejection of “American decline.”
Trump has raised spending for the military to new levels, after a decade of deep cuts under sequestration.
He signed a defense bill authorizing $716 billion for the military in 2018 and $700 billion in 2019.