WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump is directing the Pentagon to create the "Space Force" as an independent service branch.

  • President Trump announces Space Force
  • Will be independent service branch
  • Also announced new satellite traffic policies

Trump said Monday that "we are going to have the space force" which he deemed a "separate but equal" branch of the military.

Trump says the United States will "be the leader by far" in space. The creation of the branch will be overseen by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford.

The president framed space as a national security issue, saying he does not want "China and Russia and other countries leading us."

Trump also vowed to soon return the United States to the moon and to reach Mars.

Trump was joined by Vice President Mike Pence, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, former astronaut Buzz Aldrin and members of his space council.

The president is also signing a new policy directive that calls for reducing satellite clutter in space and setting up new guildelines for satellite design and operation.