Los Angeles Times

Trump backed 'space force' after months of lobbying by officials with ties to aerospace industry

WASHINGTON - When President Donald Trump spoke to Marines at the Miramar Air Station in San Diego on March 13, he threw out an idea that he suggested had just come to him.

"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 call it the 'space force,'" he told the crowd. "And I was not really serious. And then I said what a great idea - maybe we'll have to do that."

The origin of the space force wasn't that simple.

The concept had been pushed unsuccessfully since 2016 by a small group of current and former government officials, some with deep financial ties to the aerospace industry, who see creation of a sixth military service as a surefire way to hike Pentagon spending on satellite and other space systems.

The idea of a space force "is not a new thing," said Stuart O. Witt, an aerospace executive and a member of White House's National Space Council Users Advisory Group. "The president just acted upon it."

But Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., one of the early supporters of a

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