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In a new announcement, President Trump has called on the Department of Defence to create a sixth branch of the military: the US Space Force. The announcement came during the third public meeting of the National Space Council, and will deal with the need to to modernise its methods of tracking objects in orbit.

“I am hereby directing the Department of Defence and Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces,” Trump said during the meeting.

Despite his most recent move as President, Trump will not have direct authority to create the new branch but can ask the department to at least make up a framework – it is Congress who will have to approve the act.  “Congress alone has the power to establish a new branch of the military and to establish the positions of senior executive officials to lead such a department,” Jonathan Turley, a professor at Georgetown University’s law school, told Defense News.

Last year, a similar legislation was introduced to create an independent “Space Corps” by Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, but was removed from the 2018 National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA). In response, the Air Force was restructured giving the branch more authority to oversee the defence of assets in orbit.

The idea from Trump came to light in March while speaking to service members at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego. This recent announcement comes in response to the United States exploring its options to defend assets in space.

“Our destiny beyond the Earth is not only a matter of national identity, but a matter of national security,” Trump said during his remarks. “It is so important for our military, so important, and people don’t talk about it. 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.”