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Trump directs Pentagon to create 'Space Command'

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WASHINGTON (AFP): US President Donald Trump on Tuesday ordered the creation of "Space Command," a new organisational structure within the Pentagon that will have overall control of military space operations.

The command will be separate from Trump's goal to build an entirely new branch of the military called "Space Force" - but could be a step in that direction.

"I direct the establishment, consistent with United States law, of United States Space Command as a functional Unified Combatant Command," Trump said in a memo to Defense Secretary Defense Jim Mattis.

Speaking at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida's Cape Canaveral, Vice President Mike Pence said the new US Space Command will integrate space capabilities across all branches of the military.

"It will develop the space doctrine, tactics, techniques and procedures that will enable our war fighters to defend our nation in this new era," Pence said.

SpaceCom, as it will inevitably come to be known, will be the Pentagon's 11th combatant command, along with other well-known commands including Central Command and Europe Command.

Trump in June said he wanted to create a "Space Force," which would be an entirely new branch of the military alongside the Navy, Marine Corps, Army and Air Force.

He insists such a move is necessary to tackle vulnerabilities in space and assert US dominance in orbit.

But its creation is not a done deal, as it needs to be approved by Congress, and the concept has met with some skepticism from lawmakers and defense officials wary of the cost and added bureaucracy.

The creation of a new Space Force would also set off a turf war within the Pentagon, particularly with the Air Force, which currently is responsible for most space operations.

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