DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The U.S. Space Force is showing more signs of expanding. The new military branch has deployed a squadron outside the U.S. for the first time.
The Space Force has stationed a squadron of 20 airmen at Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar. The Air Force troops were sworn into the Space Force in a ceremony at the base earlier this month.
"We're starting to see other nations that are extremely aggressive in preparing to extend conflict into space," Col. Todd Benson, director of Space Force troops at Al-Udeid, told The Associated Press. "We have to be able to compete and defend and protect all of our national interests."
What does the Space Force do?
President Donald Trump officially established the U.S. Space Force in December 2019. It became the nation's sixth military branch, and the first to join the ranks since 1947.
The official U.S. Space Force website describes the branch as "a military service that organizes, trains, and equips space forces in order to protect U.S. and allied interests in space and to provide space capabilities to the joint force." Among other things, the Space Force is set to handle national security space launches, satellite-based intelligence operations and missile warnings should one be launched. These jobs had previously been handled by the Air Force Space Command since 1982.
The Space Force has already been involved in multiple rocket launches. A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carried a robotic plane into space back in May. The following month, SpaceX used a Falcon 9 rocket to launch an advanced GPS satellite for the Space Force.
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