Leaders react to the President’s Space Force announcement

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Some leaders from Alabama expressed support for President Donald Trump's Space Force on Monday.

The President announced at a meeting of the National Space Council that he is directing the Pentagon to create a new “Space Force” as an independent service branch aimed at ensuring American supremacy in space.

Trump said "we are going to have the space force" which he deemed a "separate but equal" branch of the military. He maintained the United States will "be the leader by far" in space and he is looking to revive the nation's flagging space program.

Governor Kay Ivey (R) is a member of the National Space Council advisory group. She was in Washington for the President's announcement

Ivey said in an emailed statement to WHNT News 19:

“I was honored to be at the White House with President Trump, as he announced the creation of a national space force, which is a vital component of our national security needs. The United States’ status as a leader in space travel was fueled by the efforts of Alabamians, and I certainly expect Alabama to continue to play an important role in any increased space exploration and space-related technological advancements. As the only governor on the National Space Council’s Users Advisory Group, I look forward to working with and advising the Trump Administration in its efforts to cement our nation’s status as the front-runner in space exploration.”

Others did not voice that support for the idea. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) said generals told him they do not want a Space Force and in his opinion this is not the time to create it.

Congressman Mo Brooks (R-5th District) also weighed in. Brooks is a member of the House Armed Forces Committee. He said this could mean consideration of the Tennessee Valley to compete for any jobs that are created, and that the area is in a position to support the Space Force:

"America’s military relies heavily on its space assets to conduct war and, as such, space is a war-fighting domain. America’s war-fighting capabilities are greatly diminished if our military assets in space are neutralized. As such, a dedicated Space Force is critical to protecting America’s national security interests against Russian, Chinese, and other geopolitical threats.

“Various members of the House Armed Services Committee, including me, have supported the creation of a Space Force branch of the military. Hence, I strongly commend President Trump for his bold leadership in this area, and applaud his foresight in creating the Space Force as an independent branch of the armed services. For almost six decades America has led the world in space exploration and that preeminence is critically important to our national security. I look forward to working with the President, my colleagues, and the Pentagon to ensure Space Force is adequately funded and equipped.

“The Tennessee Valley’s space and defense communities are uniquely positioned to support the Pentagon’s effort to secure Space, the final frontier. I look forward to continuing our efforts to help ensure that the Tennessee Valley’s capabilities are considered as we compete for jobs and resources resulting from the Space Force’s creation.”

Others agree that space could become a battleground.

"As a nation, we cannot afford to b behind Russia or China, or whoever. We have to stay at the forefront. The next war could very easily be fought in Space," said Mark McDaniel, former NASA Advisory Committee member. McDaniel served on that committee for five years.

"President Clinton made the first appointment and then President Bush appointed me for two more terms," he stated.

McDaniel said he supports the idea of a Space Force for defense, but it will not be cheap.

"It will be very very expensive, but it very easily could mean the survival of our nation," he said. "I think the President knows something, and he has been proactive."

McDaniel is ready for the US to go further with not only space exploration, but securing space.

"Unfortunately, anything you can use or good, people can use for bad. With everything we have up there, yes, I think any citizen should be concerned and back the President." He added, "Let's be pioneers again. That's one of the greatest ways you can inspire students to pursue careers in math and science."

He agrees that the Tennessee Valley has the role to play.

"We have the know-how to do great things, and that's what we have to do. We have to have the budget to do it," he said, but he noted that Congress needs to handle the money if it agrees to execute the President's order directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon to establish a space force.