Vice President Mike Pence laid out an ambitious plan Thursday that would lead to the creation of a Space Force, the first new military department since the Air Force was established in the wake of World War II in 1947.

In a speech at the Pentagon, Pence warned of the advancements that potential adversaries were making and issued what amounted to a call to arms to preserve the military’s dominance in space.

“Just as we’ve done in ages past, the United Statesl meet the emerging threats on this new battlefield,” he said. “The time has come to establish the United States Space Force.”

But plans to stand up a new military branch have been met with fierce opposition from some inside the Pentagon and within the national security community more broadly. The Air Force in particular might lose key responsibilities. The proposal also would need approval from Congress.

President Trump has made it clear that his administration would move aggressively, saying recently that “it is not enough to have an American presence in space, we must have American dominance in space.”

For years, some members of Congress and the military leaders have been warning that space is no longer a peaceful sanctuary, but a domain of conflict that needs more attention and resources. Space is vital to the way the United States wages war. The Pentagon’s satellites are used for missile-defense warnings, guiding precision munitions, and providing communications and reconnaissance.

Russian and China have made significant advancements, challenging the United States’ assets in space. In 2007, China blew up a dead weather satellite with a missile, creating a massive debris cloud in orbit. It also demonstrated the ability to hit satellites in a much deeper orbit where the military parks some of its most sensitive assets.

Last year, some members of Congress proposed creating a “Space Corps” inside the Air Force, similar to how the Marine Corps is part of the Navy Department. Senior Pentagon officials opposed the measure, and the plan was shelved.

Trump’s Space Force plan would go even further, creating a new branch with both a new member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a political appointee serving as a service secretary.

During a speech in June, Trump directed the Pentagon “to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a Space Force as the sixth branch of the Armed Forces.” And he said that “we are going to have the Air Force, and we are going to have the Space Force — separate but equal.”

This story will be updated.

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