For the second time in as many months, President Donald Trump expressed a desire to create a new branch of the U.S. military.
According to USA Today, Trump was presenting the U.S. Army football team with the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy on Tuesday when he again broached the idea of creating a “Space Force.”
“We’re actually thinking of a sixth (military branch),” he said. “And that would be the Space Force.”
Claiming that America is “getting very big in space,” Trump concluded that it is now time to consider creating a new military branch designed to defend the nation from extraterrestrial threats.
Trump once again floats his idea for a Space Force — says he is seriously considering it.
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) May 1, 2018
“Does that make sense?” he asked the crowd. “Because we are getting very big in space, both militarily and for other reasons and we are seriously thinking of the Space Force.”
His comments built on a similar proposal he laid out during a speech in March.
At that time, Trump was addressing a military crowd in San Diego, California, during his trip to observe prototypes of a possible border wall to be erected between the U.S. and Mexico.
He led into his discussion of a Space Force by lauding a space program he said would soon take American astronauts to Mars.
“You wouldn’t have been going to Mars if my opponent won, that I can tell you,” he said. “You wouldn’t even be thinking about.”
The president segued into his “new national strategy” recognizing that “space is a war-fighting domain” that might require the formation of a dedicated military branch.
“We may even have a Space Force,” he said. “Develop another one. Space Force. We have the Air Force; we’ll have the Space Force, we have the Army, the Navy.”
Trump then confessed that he had initially brought up the idea of a Space Force for a lark, but became serious about it when others took it seriously.
“You know, I was saying it the other day, because we’re doing a tremendous amount of work in space, I said, ‘Maybe we need a new force. We’ll go with the Space Force,’” Trump said. “And I was not really serious and then they said what a great idea, maybe we’ll have to do that.”
While Trump’s rhetoric on the topic attracted some ridicule by critics, lawmakers voted last year to advance a discussion of a related proposal.
Members of the House Armed Services Committee supported a bill to create a unit called the “Space Corps,” which would fall under the Air Force’s purview.
Though that bill did not ultimately lead to the formation of such an entity in this year’s defense spending bill, experts say the early support provided the roots for a space-based military unit in the future.