Air Force chief of staff says he loves ‘the president is leading’ space discussion

Air Force chief of staff says he loves ‘the president is leading’ space discussion

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If the Air Force Chief of Staff doesn’t support President Donald Trump’s idea of a separate Space Force, he did not reveal his feelings to the press Tuesday, instead praising his administration for putting focus on space as a “war-fighting domain.”

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“One of my challenges when I first came in this job two years ago was actually finding enough people interested and passionate about what I’m passionate about, which is where we move militarily but also nationally relative to space,” Gen. David Goldfein said.

In the past, the Air Force has angled to keep the space domain under its command, but Goldfein would only heap compliments on the Trump administration’s excitement about space, saying he’s glad the president “is leading that discussion.”

PHOTO: Gen. David L. Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force answers questions during a news briefing at the Pentagon, Nov. 9, 2017.Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP, FILE
Gen. David L. Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force answers questions during a news briefing at the Pentagon, Nov. 9, 2017.

(MORE: Everything you need to know about Trump’s ‘Space Force’)

(MORE: Trump directs creation of ‘Space Force’ as sixth branch of military)

“So now,” Goldfein added, “I’ve got the president of the United States that’s talking openly about space as a war fighting domain. I’ve got a vice president of the United States that stood up a National Space Council and is moving that. I’ve got Congress that’s engaged and now interested in talking a lot about space. I’ve got the Secretary of Defense working space. I’ve got a Deputy Secretary. So I see this as a huge opportunity right now that we’ve been given to have a national level dialogue about where we’re going in space and so I love the fact that the president is leading that discussion.”

Goldfein said the president was “loud and clear” on his directive to stand up a separate Space Force, and that the Department of Defense has “begun that planning effort.”

“This is a dialogue that is going to include a lot of votes and stakeholders, and so we’re moving under the secretary of defense’s guidance to do just that,” he said.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump delivers remarks to military personnel and families in an aircraft hangar at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, Sept. 15, 2017.Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
President Donald Trump delivers remarks to military personnel and families in an aircraft hangar at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, Sept. 15, 2017.

Goldfein said the Department of Defense is putting its “final touches” on its report to Congress that looks at how a separate Space Force would operate. That report, led by the deputy secretary of defense and due Aug. 1, grew out of language in Congress’ National Defense Authorization Act, before Trump publicly directed the Pentagon to stand up a Space Force.

The general acknowledged that part of the analysis of a separate force is looking at the “bureaucratic angle … to make sure we’re moving forward smartly” — the only time he came close to acknowledging that a command of space could remain under Air Force control.

ABC News’ Elizabeth McLaughlin contributed to this story.

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