South Court Auditorium
Eisenhower Executive Office Building

4:43 P.M. EST

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you all for being here today.  To Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller, to the Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett, to General John Hyten, General Jay Raymond, General James Dickinson, General David Thompson, and General David Allvin: On behalf of the First Family, welcome to the White House.  And welcome to the first anniversary of that branch of our Armed Forces that will ensure for generations that America remains as dominant in space as we are on land and sea and air.  Welcome to the first anniversary of the United States Space Force.  (Applause.)

Many kind things have been said about your Vice President, but I have to tell you I am the second-biggest champion of the Space Force in this administration.  So as we begin, allow me to bring greetings and first anniversary congratulations from a champion of everyone who wears the uniform of the United States and the founder of the United States Space Force.  I bring greetings and congratulations from the 45th President of the United States, President Donald Trump.  (Applause.)

We just left the Oval Office with the President.  And from the very first moment that he conceived of the idea of creating a new branch of our Armed Forces dedicated to our security in space, he has been an enthusiast, and I can testify — as the Acting Secretary and the Secretary of the Air Force can attest — that enthusiasm has only grown in the last year.  And he’s proud of each and every one of you, as I am.

But we’re grateful to the contributions of all of you in this room, and to the speakers who have preceded me at this podium, for bringing us to the fruition of this first year, but, more importantly, bringing us to this day, a year ago Sunday, that saw the creation of the first new branch of our Armed Forces in more than 70 years.

And there are members of Congress who are with us today who I remember in those critical moments in the legislative process who were absolutely indispensable.  And I’d like you to join me in thanking Congressman Doug Lamborn for your great leadership on behalf of our Space Force.  (Applause.)

And the first person ever to mention to me that we ought to restart the National Space Council.  Even before I had this job, he was one of the greatest champions of American leadership in space and the Congress of the United States: Congressman Brian Babin.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

And I want to give particular note to a member of the United States Senate who, in the late going, was there fighting to ensure that we would establish a new branch of our Armed Forces that would have a foundation of independence to be able to grow for generations and serve the security of our nation.  So join me in thanking Senator Kevin Cramer for your outstanding and seminal leadership.  (Applause.)

I also want to take a moment to express my appreciation to two members of Congress who are not here but who have been and remain champions and emblematic of the bipartisan support that this new branch of our Armed Forces enjoys across the Congress of the United States.  Join me in thanking Congressman Adam Smith, the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and the incoming ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, Congressman Mike Rogers — two leaders who have championed the United States Space Force.  (Applause.)

And it’s my greatest honor to be here with so many warriors who have stood in the gap for America and to be able to thank you for your service, and to thank you for the foundation that you’ve helped pour for future generations of Americans in our security in space.

There are several people to thank, but I — there’s a man who I consider to be a giant in the realm of American leadership in space.  He’s a former commander of the Air Force Space Command.  I first — I first met him at Offutt Air Force Base, when he was leading our Strategic Command forces there.  He actually comes from a family that’s been involved in American space enterprise throughout his life.  And at just the right time, he became Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Would you join me in thanking General John Hyten and his wonderful wife Laura?  (Applause.)  I know the President knows is what I know — is we wouldn’t be here without you, General.  So thank you so very much for your strong leadership.

But to all the members of our Armed Forces with us here today: Thank you for your service to our great nation.  And thank you for your enthusiastic participation in this first year of the launch of the United States Space Force.

You know, yesterday marked the birthday of flight.  History records that it was 117 years ago that two sons of a Heartland preacher — one of whom was born in Indiana — (laughter) — did what for all of history had seemed impossible when they took their first flight to the skies over Kitty Hawk.

But in just a few short days, on Sunday, December the 20th, we will mark the formal anniversary of another American breakthrough.  On Sunday, it will be one year since President Donald Trump signed into law the first new branch of our Armed Forces in more than 70 years.

That historic moment was a culmination of an effort that began from the early days of this administration — from almost the first moment that the President and I spoke about space when we were campaigning for these jobs.  He had a dual focus of renewing American leadership in human space exploration, but also ensuring that America remained as dominant in space as we are in land and air and sea.  And from the first day of this administration, President Trump called for steps to renew American leadership in space.

It would be in June of 2018, the President first laid out a vision that called for the creation of a new military service focused solely on threats in and from space.  The idea, though, and its conception was not a new one.  For more than 50 years, Presidents and military leaders had discussed a branch of our military dedicated to ensuring American national security in and from space, but time and again, those efforts faltered.  But I would submit to you that it is a tribute to the leadership of our Commander-in-Chief, a tribute to the extraordinary military leadership gathered here today that this time, with bipartisan support, in just one and a half years, the United States Space Force was born.  (Applause.)

And since that historic moment, the United States Space Force has only grown stronger by the day.  And that means that America has grown more secure by the day.

After the Space Force became law, the President’s first decision was who would lead it.  And the President and I get the sense in the room, there is broad agreement that he got that decision right too.  He chose a man — (applause) —

He chose a man who — you’ve heard from these podiums already — is considered to be the Hap Arnold of our time.  He would become the Chief of Space Operations of the United States Space Force.  And I can tell you, having witnessed his leadership firsthand, that when General Jay Raymond stepped forward, it brought the leadership, the energy, the vision, the professionalism, and the patriotism necessary to have this historic year for the United States Space Force.

So join me in thanking General Jay Raymond, his wonderful wife Mollie, and his proud son Gary for all of their commitment to America.  (Applause.)  Thank you, General.  Good job.

It’s amazing to think that this spring General Raymond actually welcomed the first enlisted member to the Space Force.  So how about a round of applause for Chief Master Sergeant Roger Towberman?  (Applause.)  You can stand up.  Come on, stand up.  Thank you.  Thank you, Chief.

In April, those two men were literally the entire United States Space Force.  (Laughter.)  But in just eight months, we already have more than 2,000 military members — space professionals in the United States Space Force.  And I’m told that an additional 3,600 officers and enlisted airmen have already started to fill out the paperwork to transfer into the Space Force.  (Applause.)

In fact, General Raymond tells us that we anticipate, on our current trajectory, the Space Force will have nearly 6,000 space professionals serving all across the globe in just a short period of time.  In fact, today, the Space Force got its newest and perhaps most famous member — a man who is actually in space right now, at the International Space Station.  General Raymond took care of the paperwork, and I think it might actually be the first in-orbit transfer in military history.  Colonel Michael Hopkins, NASA astronaut and member of the United States Space Force.  (Applause.)  Great move.

You know, heroes like him and like all of you are going to inspire generations of Americans.  In fact, Secretary Barbara Barrett and I witnessed some of those young Americans stepping forward in Colorado Springs, where we both had the opportunity to address the 62nd Graduation of the United States Air Force Academy.  When I was there, they told me, in a typical year, about 20 cadets choose to go into space operations.  This year, I was there when 86 cadets stood up and took the oath as officers in the United States Space Force.  (Applause.)

And just to continue to build on the momentum, I’m proud to report to the senator and these members of Congress and all those looking on that it was my honor — with Secretary Barrett at my side and General Raymond, as well — that we made it official.  We traveled to Florida to announce the first two Space Force installations in American history: Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and Patrick Space Force Base.  (Applause.)

And the Space Force is growing stronger every day and just in the nick of time.  I think every one of the military leaders here knows that space is a vacuum, but we’re not operating in a vacuum.  The space race began in the 1950s, and it continues today.  And in President Donald Trump, we have a Commander-in-Chief who has understood clearly that space is a warfighting domain and it’s imperative that we invest the resources and the personnel and the technology to defend our nation and defend our values in the outer reaches of space.

In fact, the United States, as you’ve heard already, faces emerging threats in space for countries like China and Russia, and those threats are only growing.  We were reminded of that just this week, when Russia conducted yet another anti-satellite missile launch.  We’re leading in space, but our determination under this President and with his extraordinary military leadership, is to stay in the lead to defend America and defend our freedom from space.  (Applause.)

We seek peace through strength.  And I want to say to the men and women of the United States Space Force: When it comes to the outer reaches of space, you are that strength.

So today, we celebrate leadership from our President, the great bipartisan support in the Congress, and the military leadership that has seen to both the birth and the pouring of the first year’s foundation of the United States Space Force.

And I just came here today to thank each and every one of you, but also to make another announcement.  As I mentioned, we just returned from the Oval Office.  And so it is my honor, on behalf of the President of the United States, to announce that, henceforth, the men and women of the United States Space Force will be known as “Guardians.”  (Applause.)  Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Guardians will be defending our nation for generations to come.  (Applause.)

So, with that announcement, let me just say thank you again.  I want to thank the members of Congress who are with us today.  Thank you for the honor of your presence, but more importantly, thank you — thank you for your leadership in bringing us to this moment one year ago and the support that you’ve continued to provide to see to the launch of this new branch of our Armed Forces.

But on behalf of your Commander-in-Chief, let me urge each and every one of you Guardians to keep pushing.  Keep pushing.  Keep pushing the vision and the mission of the United States Space Force, which is to ensure that America remains as dominant in space, and from space, as we are on land and sea and air.

And to each one of you Guardians, let me just say: Each and every day, from this day forward, I want to assure you that you will serve with the confidence of your Commander-in-Chief.  You will serve with the confidence and gratitude of the American people.  And I’m also convinced that those of you that will serve in the United States Space Force, in this generation and generations to come, will also go with the prayers of millions of Americans who will claim that ancient verse that promises that: If you rise on the wings of the dawn, if you settle on the far side of the sea, even if you go up to the heavens, that there His hand will guide you and his right hand will hold you fast.  That then will be our prayer for our Guardians in this generation and for generations to come.

So Happy Birthday to the United States Space Force.  God bless our Guardians.  God bless all the members of our Armed Forces.  And God bless America.  Semper Supra.  (Applause.)

END                 5:00 P.M. EST