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Pentagon Wants Space Force to Be Organized Under Air Force: Report

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This Jan. 7, 2018 photo made available by SpaceX shows the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral, Fla., for the "Zuma" U.S. satellite mission. (SpaceX via AP)
This Jan. 7, 2018 photo made available by SpaceX shows the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral, Fla., for the "Zuma" U.S. satellite mission. (SpaceX via AP)

The Pentagon's latest proposal on how best to organize the Trump administration's Space Force would put the newest military branch under the Department of the Air Force, according to a new report.

Draft legislation on the Space Force calls for an undersecretary of the Air Force for the Space Force, as well as a Space Force chief of staff, according to the proposal first reported by Defense News.

"There is established a United States Space Force as an armed force within the Department of the Air Force," states the legislation language reportedly seen by the newspaper.

The proposal will move forward alongside the fiscal 2020 budget request, a Defense Department official familiar with the document confirmed to Military.com. However, the source said the proposal is still being deliberated.

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The Air Force referred questions on the subject to the DoD. A Secretary of Defense office spokesman said that defense leadership is still working on the recommendation.

"While we establish this new combatant command, we continue to develop a legislative proposal to meet President Trump's vision for a Space Force as a sixth U.S. military service," said Pentagon spokesman Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Andrews, echoing Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan this week.

On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence announced that President Donald Trump had signed a memorandum creating a new unified, combatant command: U.S. Space Command.

Pence said the command, which will be the fourth functional combatant command and 11th combatant command overall, is the stepping stone to creating a U.S. Space Force.

"Space command and [its] combatant commander are responsible for the planning and execution of global space operations, activities and missions," Andrews said Thursday.

"The Space Force will direct how the Department of Defense organizes, trains, equips and provides space capabilities to operational commanders."

Should the new language make it up to top brass before heading to Congress, the move gives the Air Force -- the branch that considers itself the leader of the space mission -- an advantage in overseeing operations on a broader scale, much like the proposed Space Corps.

Before Trump announced intentions to build a Space Force, there were months of deliberations between the Air Force and lawmakers on whether the service should stand up a "Space Corps" in hopes of taking adversarial threats in space more seriously.

While lawmakers ultimately removed language from the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act that would have required an overhaul of the Air Force's mission in favor of a Space Corps, they still mandated a study of the idea and backed changes to management of the space cadre.

Whether the potential legislation would appease Trump is unknown. The president has spoken often about Space Force as its own military branch in line with the rest of the services.

"We are going to have the Air Force, and we are going to have the Space Force -- separate but equal," he said during a rally last summer.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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