Trump Signs Far-Reaching $738 Billion Defense Spending Bill

December 23, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump signed legislation Friday that creates a space force and gives federal workers 12 weeks of paid parental leave.

The Republican-controlled Senate approved the $738 billion defense policy bill Tuesday after the Democratic-led House approved the measure last week.

The measure funds the creation of Trump's proposed space force as the sixth branch of the U.S. military in exchange for funding the Democrats' parental leave proposal, which gives 2 million federal workers 12 weeks of parental leave for the first time in American history.

The space force will be the first new branch of the U.S. military in more than 60 years.

General John "Jay" Raymond, commander of U.S. Space Command and Air Force Space Command, called the new military branch "nationally critical," and said, "America's leadership in space is resonating globally. ... Let there be no mistake. The United States is the best in the world in space today, and today we're even better."

Raymond said while there are still many questions about the space force, including what its members will be called and what their uniforms will look like, "this is really important to our nation."

"It's really important that we get this right. A uniform, a [military] patch. A song. It gets to the culture of a service. And so we're not going to be in a rush," he said.

Stephen Kitay, deputy assistant secretary of defense for space policy, said, "Space is critical to our way of life as well [to] as our military and we need people to understand that."

About 16,000 military and civilian personnel will be assigned to the space force. That includes 2,500 military operators (military personnel who actively perform space-related duties), another 6,200 enlisted personnel and about 3,400 civilians.

Several current U.S. Air Force bases will eventually be renamed as they host, mainly, space force functions. The list includes Peterson Air Force Base, Schriever Air Force Base, Buckley Air Force Base, Patrick Air Force Base and Vandenberg Air Force Base, among others.

It is not known what name change they will undergo to include the space force element.

The mission of the new force is in line with the current National Defense Strategy, which sees China and Russia as the top adversaries. And while they don't have actual forces in space, they have satellites and can use space and space-based assets against the U.S.

“We are at the dawn of a new era for our Nation’s Armed Forces. The establishment of the U.S. Space Force is an historic event and a strategic imperative for our Nation. Space has become so important to our way of life, our economy, and our national security that we must be prepared as a Nation to protect it from hostile actions,” said Secretary of Defense, Mark T. Esper. “Our Military Services have created the world’s best space capabilities. Now is the time for the U.S. Space Force to lead our Nation in preparing for emerging threats in an evolving space environment. This new service will help ensure we are postured to deter aggression, defend our national interests and outpace potential adversaries.”

“Space is critical to our nation's economic interests, national security, and way of life,” said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley. “In military operations, space is not just a place from which we support combat operations in other domains, but a warfighting domain in and of itself. Our adversaries are building and deploying capabilities to threaten us, so we can no longer take space for granted. The U.S. Space Force is the necessary and essential step our Nation will take to defend our national interests in space today and into the future.”

“The launch of the U.S. Space Force propels the nation into a new era,” said Secretary of the Air Force, Barbara M. Barrett. “An agile, lean and technologically-advanced force of talented professionals will now singularly focus on protecting our U.S. national interests and security in space.”

“With the establishment of the Space Force we elevate the organize, train and equip function consistent with the criticality of the space domain,” said Gen. Jay Raymond, Chief of Space Operations and Commander, U.S. Space Command. “The U.S. Space Force will deliver the capabilities U.S. Space Command needs to control and exploit space for national advantage.”

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