Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photos: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Donald Trump announced Monday that he is directing the Pentagon to establish a “Space Force” as the sixth branch of the armed forces — but the move is not as simple as his announcement suggested, and it's far from done yet.

The big picture: It wasn’t clear on the day of the announcement that Trump had signed a directive for the Pentagon to actually create the force — and the Pentagon is treating Trump's announcement as "guidance." Any creation of the force would also require congressional approval, and it's unclear at this time if the support is there to split a fully-fledged "Space Force" off from the U.S. Air Force (USAF), where military space operations are currently housed.

  • The bottom line: The personnel, budgeting, capability, and operations planning that would have to go into this decision cannot be completed with the stroke of a pen.

A smart take: This is reflective of Trump’s management style, the WSJ’s Andy Pasztor and Gordon Lubold write: "He occasionally offers seemingly ad hoc ideas in public, but at some point expects aides and cabinet officials to follow up with specific implementation plans."

  • It's not a total surprise from Trump. He has floated the idea before — first in March at a Southern California air base, and then again this May at a White House reception.

The pushback: There are undertones of resistance at the Pentagon among top military brass — generals have told Sen. Bill Nelson they do not support the move.

  • The Pentagon's official line: "We understand the President's guidance. Our Policy Board will begin working on this issue," said Dana White, chief Pentagon spokesperson.
  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in a letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee last year: “I opposed the creation of a new military service…at a time when we are focused on reducing overhead..."
  • The Air Force: Just a week before Trump made the announcement, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson met with the service’s senior commanders, and the conclusion was that “this will happen, but now is not the time,” a person who participated told the WSJ.

The history: It is possible to separate out some capabilities from existing branches of the armed forces and form new ones. The USAF was first created as a separate entity from the U.S. Army in 1947. Over the years it gradually acquired new capabilities, including missile operations, intelligence satellites, and, in 1982, the creation of the Space Command, headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado.

Yes, but: The baseline in international law leaves it unclear whether space can be used for military purposes, and there’s no general consensus among experts who analyze this issue, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

  • The 1967 Outer Space Treaty contains no language that specifically prohibits militarizing space, except when it comes to weapons of mass destruction, like nuclear weapons. It is required that all states’ use of the Moon and other celestial bodies is for “peaceful purposes.”
  • Exploring and using outer space must be done for the benefit of all countries and all exploration and use must follow international law, like the U.N. Charter, per the treaty.

Why it matters: China has vowed to shoot ahead in the race to gain technical acumen in space. On Friday, after Trump announced his guidance, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine discussed China’s and Russia’s ability to threaten American space assets Friday before Congress.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Health

Pfizer-BioNTech: Booster doses more effective at blocking Omicron

Prepared doses of the BioNtech-Pfizer Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Germany on Dec. 7. Photo: Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine were significantly less effective at neutralizing the Omicron variant in early lab tests, but a three-dose regimen was more effective.

Why it matters: Omicron, which has been labeled a variant of concern by the World Health Organization after being identified by scientists in South Africa last month, has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines against this specific new form of coronavirus.

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Biden unveils "Building a Better America" branding

President Biden speaks on infrastructure while visiting a bridge in Woodstock, N.H., last month. Photo: John Tully/Getty Images

President Biden today launched a new website and unveiled bold new branding as part of a nationwide tour to sell the benefits of his infrastructure package.

Why it matters: The White House says passage of the new law shows the ability to "forge bipartisan consensus and prove our democracy can deliver big wins" even in these toxic times.

3 hours ago - World

Olaf Scholz sworn in as German chancellor, succeeding Merkel

Incoming German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is sworn in by Bundestag President Bärbel Bas in Berlin today. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Social Democrat Olaf Scholz was sworn in as chancellor of Germany on Wednesday, succeeding Angela Merkel after 16 years and launching a new era of German and European politics.

Why it matters: Scholz, a center-left pragmatist who served as finance minister and vice chancellor in Merkel's last government, will lead Europe's largest economy in a coalition with the environmentalist Greens and pro-business Free Democrats.