President Trump on Tuesday directed the Department of Defense to create Space Command, a new unified combat command focused on space that is meant to lay the groundwork for a proposed Space Force.
Space Command will be the military’s 11th unified combat command. Combat commands are composed of forces from two or more military branches and are organized on a geographic (i.e., United States European Command) or functional (i.e., United States Cyber Command) basis.
While the Air Force already operates a Space Command, the new organization will bring space-oriented elements from different branches of the military under one roof. A defense official told the Associated Press that the command would include about 600 staff members currently serving in various branches, with another 1,000 staff added over the next few years. The projected cost of roughly $800 million over five years would go mostly towards new personnel. Funding for the new command will be included in the 2020 defense budget, expected to arrive in February.
Trump called for the creation of a Space Force as the sixth branch of the military earlier this year, but questions remain about whether military brass and lawmakers will support such a move, which requires congressional approval.