Mattis: Legislation needed to create 'space force'

Mattis: Legislation needed to create 'space force'
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Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump eyes second Putin summit The Hill's Morning Report — Russia furor grips Washington Court rules against Trump administration on transgender military ban MORE on Wednesday said President’s Trump’s recent direction to establish a “space force” will require work with Congress that has not yet started. 

“This as you know is going to require legislation and a lot of detailed planning and we’ve not yet begun,” Mattis told reporters outside the Pentagon prior to meeting with his German counterpart.

“We’ve clearly got to start the process,” Mattis added, noting that it is among the issues Pentagon leaders will bring up bring up on Friday morning when they meet with National Security Advisor John Bolton.

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Trump on Monday surprised military officials when he announced that he's directing the Pentagon to create a “Space Force” as its sixth military service branch.

The White House last year opposed a plan to create a separate space force, which the House Armed Services Committee attempted but failed to insert in the annual defense policy bill.

Mattis’s comments follow a memo put out Tuesday by Air Force officials to assure that immediate changes will not happen in creating a space military branch.

“This work directed by the President will be a thorough, deliberate, and inclusive process,” according to the memo, signed by Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, Chief of Staff David Goldfein and Chief Master Sergeant Kaleth Wright and posted to an Air Force Facebook page.

“As such, we should not expect any immediate moves or changes. Our focus must remain on the mission as we continue to accelerate the space warfighting capabilities required to support the National Defense Strategy.”

The memo adds that the Air Force will work with Pentagon leaders, Congress and national security partners “to move forward on this planning effort.” 

Wilson, Goldfein and Mattis last year all opposed a separate space branch when the issue came up in Congress. 

The officials said such a move would create additional, unneeded bureaucracy.