BOSTON (CBS) – “We will establish a ‘Space Force’ as the sixth branch of the Armed Forces,” vowed President Trump earlier this year. “That’s a big statement.”

Yes it was. And today, Vice President Mike Pence went to the Pentagon and made some big statements about the progress they’re making in addressing the undeniable threat of potential attacks on our crucial satellite infrastructure, a key element of our global military capability.

President Donald Trump holds up an executive order that he signed on June 18, 2018 to establish the Space Force, an independent and co-equal military branch, as the sixth branch of the U.S. armed forces. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

For instance:

“The report the Department of Defense will release… represents a critical step toward establishing the Space Force as a sixth branch of our Armed Forces,” said Mr. Pence.

But a close reading of the report discloses plenty of words like “ensure… improve… accelerate… leverage and consolidate” that suggest a reordering of existing resources rather than creation of a brand-new entity. One example: A “new US Space Command” to oversee this new branch will be subject to a future evaluation of the need for it.

“Over time our ability to adapt to new and emerging threats has been stifled by needless layers of red tape,” said Mr. Pence. No wonder the report from Defense Sec. James Mattis released today in conjunction with the vice president’s remarks hedges on building a new branch. Mattis told Congress last year, “I do not wish to add a separate service,” part of his ongoing push to curb, not expand, military bureaucracy.

Pence: “We’re building bipartisan support for our plan.”

Better make that “trying to build.” While the House has signaled support for the Space Force concept, the Senate has not, and a House takeover by Democrats this fall would almost certainly leave the Space Force grounded.

Share your thoughts with me via email at, or use Twitter, @kelleratlarge.


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