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Trump touts Space Force plans at Pentagon

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By Dartunorro Clark  with NBC News Politics
Image: President Donald Trump addresses the annual American Farm Bureau Fed
President Donald Trump addresses the annual American Farm Bureau Federation convention in New Orleans on Jan. 14, 2019.   -   Copyright  Mandel Ngan AFP - Getty Images

President Donald Trump said on Thursday that space represents "a new warfighting domain" and touted his plan for a sixth branch of the military to extend America's might in the vast unknown.

"We will recognize that space is a new war-fighting domain with the 'space force' leading the way," Trump told service members at the Pentagon. "My upcoming budget will invest in a space-based missile defense layer technology. It's ultimately going to be a very, very big part of our defense and obviously of our offense."

He added, "any missile launches from hostile powers, or even from powers that make a mistake, it won't happen, regardless of the missile type or geographic origins of the attack: we will ensure that enemy missiles find no sanctuary on Earth or in the skies above."

Last August, Vice President Mike Pence laid out details for Trump's proposed new branch of the U.S. military, which would be responsible for protecting national security in outer space. In a speech at the Pentagon, Pence said the new space force would be established by 2020.

However, the proposal to create the new branch of U.S. Armed Forces would require congressional approval. A report released by the Department of Defense said that it would create a legislative proposal for Congress for the 2020 budget cycle.

The technology and weaponry highlighted by Pence last year and in the Defense Department report include anti-satellite weapons, which could disable or destroy satellites, technology to jam military communications and the enhancement of radar and GPS capabilities.

Trump came up with the idea last March, saying he first thought of it as a joke.

"I said, 'Maybe we need a new force, we'll call it the Space Force,' and I was not really serious," he said in a speech to service members at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in California. "Then I said, 'What a great idea, maybe we'll have to do that.'"

In June, the president ordered the Pentagon to immediately begin the process of developing the idea.