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U.S. Unveils Plans For Space Force To Counter Russia, China 'Threat'

"We must have American dominance in space, and so we will," Vice President Mike Pence said. (file photo)

Vice President Mike Pence, citing threats from Russia and China, has presented details of plans to create a U.S. Space Force by 2020 that would become the sixth branch of the military.

"Time has come to write the next great chapter in the history of our armed forces” and to prepare for "the next battlefield," Pence told an audience at the Pentagon on August 9.

He said a Space Force was a crucial element to countering Russia and China, which he said were "aggressively" working to develop antisatellite capabilities.

"China and Russia have been conducting highly sophisticated on-orbit activities that could enable them to maneuver their satellites into close proximity of ours, posing unprecedented new dangers to our space systems," the vice president said.

"We must have American dominance in space, and so we will," Pence added.

President Donald Trump tweeted, "Space Force all the way!"

The U.S. military currently consists of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps.

Trump in June ordered the creation of a Space Force as a way for the military to address vulnerabilities in space and press U.S. dominance in space.

"My administration is reclaiming America's heritage as the world's greatest space-faring nation," Trump said. "We don't want China and Russia and other countries leading us. We've always led."

At the time, the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed alarm over the U.S. plan, accusing Washington of "nurturing plans to bring out weapons into space with the aim of possibly staging military action there."

The creation of a Space Force would still need to be approved by the U.S. Congress, where some members have expressed concerns about the additional costs.

Pence said the initial request to Congress would be for $8 billion for five years and that the administration was working with lawmakers to construct the needed legislation.

Most space-based defense activities are currently under the control of the Air Force, and some officers have said that an independent branch would create unnecessary expenses and, ultimately, turf wars.

With reporting by AP, AFP, Reuters, and dpa