June 18 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump on Monday said he directed the Department of Defense to create a sixth branch of the military -- a space force.
He announced the idea during a public meeting of the National Space Council in the East Room of the White House.
"We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force -- separate but equal," Trump said. "It is going to be something ... Gen. [Joseph] Dunford, if you would carry that assignment out, I would be very greatly honored."
The president offered no specifics about the role of a space force within the Pentagon. He did, though, push his vision that the council and an effort to return to the moon will create jobs and boost the economy.
"This time, we will do more than plant our flag and leave our footprints," Trump said referring to a trip to the moon. "We will establish a long-term presence, expand our economy and build the foundation for the eventual mission to Mars -- which is actually going to happen very quickly."
He said he's instructing the administration to "embrace the budding commercial space industry" by modernizing space regulations and implementing a framework for space traffic management.
"Our nation of pioneers still yearns to conquer the unknown, because we are Americans and the future belongs totally to us," Trump said. "Once more, we will launch intrepid souls blazing through the sky and soaring into the heavens. Once more, we will summon the American spirit to tame the next great American frontier. And once more, we will proudly lead humanity -- and that's what it is, it's humanity -- beyond the Earth and into those forbidden skies, but they will not be forbidden for long.