Trump orders Pentagon to create US 'space force'

US President Donald Trump on Monday said he was ordering the establishment of a sixth branch of the military to clear the way for American dominance of space.
US President Donald Trump delivers remarks during a meeting of the National Space Council in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, US, on June 18, 2018.
US President Donald Trump delivers remarks during a meeting of the National Space Council in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, US, on June 18, 2018. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON (AFP) - President Donald Trump on Monday (June 18) ordered the Pentagon to create a new US "space force," which would become the sixth branch of the American military and would ensure "American dominance" in space.

"I'm hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a space force as the sixth branch of the armed forces," Trump said.

"We are going to have the Air Force, and we are going to have the space force, separate but equal," he added.

"When it comes to defending America it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space, we must have American dominance in space."

Details about the role and timing of the space force were not immediately clear.

Trump's comments came at the start of the third meeting of the National Space Council, an advisory body led by Vice President Mike Pence.

Trump also announced he would sign a directive on space traffic management, aimed at monitoring objects in orbit so as to avoid collisions and debris strikes.