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The United States officially launched the Space Force on Friday with President Donald Trump signing into law the 2020 defence budget that will fund the newest and the sixth branch of US military, to counter increasing threats chiefly from Russia and China to American assets in space.

The US Space Force has been assigned a $40 billion budget and will be staffed with 16,000 personnel. It will be charged with protecting America’s navigation and communications satellites from being jammed, blinded and disabled by adversaries, which also include Iran and North Korea.

“Space is the world’s newest warfighting domain,” Trump said in an address to troops at airfield before signing the National Defence Appropriation Act (NDAA) 2020 into law. “Among the grave threats to our national security, American superiority in space is absolutely vital. And we’re leading, but we’re not leading by enough, and very shortly we’ll be leading by a lot.”

“The Space Force will help us deter aggression and control the ultimate high ground,” he added.

The Space Force will be the sixth branch of US military after Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guards. The last branch, the Air Force, was created 70 years ago.

It will have its own uniform, shoulder patches and even, eventually, its own song, just like the US Army and Navy.

The US military leadership and lawmakers had been considering the creation of a separate force for space for years, but there had been scepticism over it. It became a pet project of President Trump who is reported to have pressed the reluctant and sceptical Pentagon leadership.

In a report earlier in the year, the US department of department clearly defined China and Russia as major threat for developing equipment and technologies taking out American satellites.

US vice-president Mike Pence expanded the list to include Iran and North Korea as well in August.

“For many years, nations from Russia and China to North Korea and Iran have pursued weapons to jam, blind, and disable our navigation and communications satellites via electronic attacks from the ground,” he said. “But recently, our adversaries have been working to bring new weapons of war into space itself,” Pence had said in August.

He cited a 2007 test in which China one of its own satellites — India has that ability as well, as it demonstrated in March — also successfully tested and described Russian attempts to design “an airborne laser” and that that “it claims to be developing missiles that can be launched from an aircraft mid-flight to destroy American satellites.”

US air force general John Raymond, the commander of US Space Command, was named to head the Space Force. “Let there be no mistake, the United States is the best in the world in space today. Consistent with our National Defence Strategy, the United States Space Force will ensure we compete, deter and win from a position of strength, securing our way of life and our national security,” Raymond said.

The Space Force a branch of US military like Army and Navy, while the Space Command is a warfighting unit like the Indo-Pacifica Command and the Central Command.