Vice President Mike Pence speaks during an event on the creation of a United States Space Force, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018, at the Pentagon. Pence says the time has come to establish a new United States Space Force to ensure America's dominance in space amid heightened completion and threats from China and Russia. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Vice President Mike Pence speaks during an event on the creation of a US Space Force. AP

Pence outlines Trump's Space Force in Pentagon speech



President Donald Trump wants Congress to allocate $8 billion (Dh29.4 billion) over the next five years for space security systems as it establishes a US Space Force as the sixth branch of the military, Vice President Mike Pence said.

“It’s not enough to have an American presence in space,” Mr Pence said on Thursday in a speech at the Pentagon. “We must have American dominance in space. And so we will.”

As Mr Pence spoke, the Defense Department released a report to Congress outlining a plan to build a new force with aggressive offensive capabilities, including systems that could “degrade, deny, disrupt, destroy, and manipulate adversary capabilities.” A four-star general will be in charge of the new command.

“Space Force all the way!” Mr Trump tweeted minutes after Mr Pence spoke.

Mr Trump first broached the idea in March, reviving a debate that began almost 20 years ago about whether the Pentagon’s space activities should be moved to a separate command. In June, Mr Trump called for the new branch to be created, despite resistance from the Air Force, which currently oversees military space programs. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the new force would be a component of the Air Force, as the Marine Corps is to the Navy.

_______________

Read more:

Nasa probe set for seven-year mission to explore sun's corona

Discovery of water on Mars revives prospect of alien life

_______________

Secretary of defence James Mattis had also disapproved of the idea in the past, saying last year he opposed creating additional bureaucracy at the Pentagon.

On Thursday, Mr Mattis said “space is one of our vital national interests” and is “no longer a new domain”.

Congress would have to approve the new military service, and lawmakers have been divided over the idea. The new branch would need to compete for money with other big, politically protected Defense Department priorities that Congress already funds.

The plan envisions setting up a new Space Development Agency modelled after two organisations that specialise in rapidly developing highly classified systems such as the B-21 bomber, or crafting new uses for existing systems.

The agency is envisioned to take over the management of most unclassified and classified satellite, missile warning, Global Positioning System, sensors and ground station programs that are now under the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center and National Reconnaissance Office.

It’s not clear how those agencies will be affected by today’s announcement and report. The Center now spends 85 percent of the Pentagon’s space system procurement budget.

The US already has a space-based military footprint. The sky is teeming with spy satellites and other platforms that support government surveillance, communications, weather forecasting and other activities. The Air Force also has a top-secret aircraft, the X-37B, built by Boeing Co, which orbits the earth for extended periods.

Much of the push to formalise the new branch of the US armed forces is motivated by space investment by Russia and China. In 2007, China fired a missile to destroy an aged weather satellite, demonstrating in a dramatic fashion its ability to deploy anti-satellite weapons.

Even before Trump’s comments, the Defense Department was under orders to formulate a “concept of operations” document for space-war fighting.

EXPATS

Director: Lulu Wang

Stars: Nicole Kidman, Sarayu Blue, Ji-young Yoo, Brian Tee, Jack Huston

Rating: 4/5

The specs: 2018 Nissan 370Z Nismo

The specs: 2018 Nissan 370Z Nismo
Price, base / as tested: Dh182,178
Engine: 3.7-litre V6
Power: 350hp @ 7,400rpm
Torque: 374Nm @ 5,200rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
​​​​​​​Fuel consumption, combined: 10.5L / 100km

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus

Developer: Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation 2 to 5
Rating: 5/5

How to avoid getting scammed
  • Never click on links provided via app or SMS, even if they seem to come from authorised senders at first glance
  • Always double-check the authenticity of websites
  • Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) for all your working and personal services
  • Only use official links published by the respective entity
  • Double-check the web addresses to reduce exposure to fake sites created with domain names containing spelling errors
The specs: 2019 BMW i8 Roadster

Price, base: Dh708,750

Engine: 1.5L three-cylinder petrol, plus 11.6 kWh lithium-ion battery

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Power: 374hp (total)

Torque: 570Nm (total)

Fuel economy, combined: 2.0L / 100km

Results

6.30pm: Maiden Dh165,000 (Dirt) 1,400m. Winner: Rio Angie, Pat Dobbs (jockey), Doug Watson (trainer).

7.05pm: Handicap Dh170,000 (D) 1,600m. Winner: Trenchard, Pat Dobbs, Doug Watson.

7.40pm: Maiden Dh165,000 (D) 1,600m. Winner: Mulfit, Pat Dobbs, Doug Watson.

8.15pm: Handicap Dh210,000 (D) 1,200m. Winner: Waady, Dane O’Neill, Doug Watson.

8.50pm: Handicap Dh210,000 (D) 2,000m. Winner: Tried And True, Pat Dobbs, Doug Watson.

9.25pm:Handicap Dh185,000 (D) 1,400m. Winner: Midnight Sands, Pat Dobbs, Doug Watson.

Voy! Voy! Voy!

Director: Omar Hilal
Stars: Muhammad Farrag, Bayoumi Fouad, Nelly Karim
Rating: 4/5

The Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index

The Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index

Mazen Abukhater, principal and actuary at global consultancy Mercer, Middle East, says the company’s Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index - which benchmarks 34 pension schemes across the globe to assess their adequacy, sustainability and integrity - included Saudi Arabia for the first time this year to offer a glimpse into the region.

The index highlighted fundamental issues for all 34 countries, such as a rapid ageing population and a low growth / low interest environment putting pressure on expected returns. It also highlighted the increasing popularity around the world of defined contribution schemes.

“Average life expectancy has been increasing by about three years every 10 years. Someone born in 1947 is expected to live until 85 whereas someone born in 2007 is expected to live to 103,” Mr Abukhater told the Mena Pensions Conference.

“Are our systems equipped to handle these kind of life expectancies in the future? If so many people retire at 60, they are going to be in retirement for 43 years – so we need to adapt our retirement age to our changing life expectancy.”

Saudi Arabia came in the middle of Mercer’s ranking with a score of 58.9. The report said the country's index could be raised by improving the minimum level of support for the poorest aged individuals and increasing the labour force participation rate at older ages as life expectancies rise.

Mr Abukhater said the challenges of an ageing population, increased life expectancy and some individuals relying solely on their government for financial support in their retirement years will put the system under strain.

“To relieve that pressure, governments need to consider whether it is time to switch to a defined contribution scheme so that individuals can supplement their own future with the help of government support,” he said.

THE SPECS

Engine: 1.6-litre turbo

Transmission: six-speed automatic

Power: 165hp

Torque: 240Nm

Price: From Dh89,000 (Enjoy), Dh99,900 (Innovation)

On sale: Now

Company profile

Name: Fruitful Day

Founders: Marie-Christine Luijckx, Lyla Dalal AlRawi, Lindsey Fournie

Based: Dubai, UAE

Founded: 2015

Number of employees: 30

Sector: F&B

Funding so far: Dh3 million

Future funding plans: None at present

Future markets: Saudi Arabia, potentially Kuwait and other GCC countries

Pox that threatens the Middle East's native species

Camelpox

Caused by a virus related to the one that causes human smallpox, camelpox typically causes fever, swelling of lymph nodes and skin lesions in camels aged over three, but the animal usually recovers after a month or so. Younger animals may develop a more acute form that causes internal lesions and diarrhoea, and is often fatal, especially when secondary infections result. It is found across the Middle East as well as in parts of Asia, Africa, Russia and India.

Falconpox

Falconpox can cause a variety of types of lesions, which can affect, for example, the eyelids, feet and the areas above and below the beak. It is a problem among captive falcons and is one of many types of avian pox or avipox diseases that together affect dozens of bird species across the world. Among the other forms are pigeonpox, turkeypox, starlingpox and canarypox. Avipox viruses are spread by mosquitoes and direct bird-to-bird contact.

Houbarapox

Houbarapox is, like falconpox, one of the many forms of avipox diseases. It exists in various forms, with a type that causes skin lesions being least likely to result in death. Other forms cause more severe lesions, including internal lesions, and are more likely to kill the bird, often because secondary infections develop. This summer the CVRL reported an outbreak of pox in houbaras after rains in spring led to an increase in mosquito numbers.


View from DC

The inside scoop from The National’s Washington bureau

      By signing up, I agree to The National's privacy policy
      View from DC