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Could Space Force Be New Branch of US Military?

FILE - The Times Square military recruiting station displays insignia for each military branch in New York, July 15, 2015. President Donald Trump has called for a Space Force as a new military branch.

The Pentagon has missed a deadline for a report to lawmakers on how to structure the military's space components, including the potential creation of a Space Force or Space Corps.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Wednesday the White House was working with the Department of Defense "to figure out and determine the best way forward [on] something the president feels strongly about."

President Donald Trump has repeatedly called for a Space Force as a new military branch that would be "separate but equal" to the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

During a political rally Tuesday in Tampa, Florida, Trump again mentioned that he had directed the Pentagon to begin creating "the sixth branch of our military — the Space Force."

Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis said Tuesday the Pentagon was in the "final coordination stages" of the report. A U.S. official told VOA the report should be ready "in days."

The report was ordered by Congress after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sent a letter to congressional leaders opposing the creation of a new military branch. In his letter last October, Mattis said he did not see the need for new "organizational layers at a time when we are focused on reducing overhead and integrating joint warfighting functions."

A draft report seen by Defense One, a military news-related website, said the Pentagon was prepared to create an 11th unified combatant command by the end of the year to focus on space. U.S. Space Command would be set up similarly to U.S. Special Operations Command, which oversees special forces from various military branches, and U.S. Cyber Command, which oversees cyberspace operations across the military branches.

Lawmakers in the House Strategic Forces subcommittee have expressed interest not in the creation of a new branch, but in the creation of a new Space Corps within the Air Force.

VOA White House correspondent Steve Herman contributed to this report.

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    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea.

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