Senator Chuck Grassley. (file photo)

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he’ll back a Trump administration plan to create a Space Force as a new branch of the U.S. military.

Last week, Vice President Mike Pence outlined a proposed effort which would be established by 2020 to face “emerging threats on this new battlefield.” Grassley says the way Pence describes it, America is losing ground in the field where we were once the world leader.

“The United States is behind other countries as far as our concern about outer space, both from a military and an educational and a scientific point of view,” Grassley says. “We need to do more to protect our interests in space.” The Space Force would become the sixth branch of the U.S. military, following the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.

The administration plan would have the Space Force established as soon as 2020. “I’m a strong believer in a strong national defense and if there’s a need to set up a separate branch of the military, I guess I’m willing to do it,” Grassley says, “just because of my interest in the number-one responsibility of the federal government: to defend our citizens.”

One concern Grassley raises is that there would be no duplication of duties between the new entity and existing divisions within the current military system. Grassley says he has concerns about our future security. “I can tell you, China is looking at all of this stuff in space and using it for defense, besides the scientific advantages you can have or the communications advantages you can have,” Grassley says. “Particularly, if they move ahead, we can’t cede space to any of our adversaries.”

The last time a new branch of the military was created was the Air Force in 1947, shortly after the end of World War Two.