Donald Trump’s decision to establish a space operations branch has been criticised both internally and externally, with experts saying that the new military service will lead to a global weaponisation of space.

The US Space Force has sent a group of 20 servicemen to Qatar’s Al-Udeid Air Base in its first foreign deployment. Colonel Todd Benson, director of Space Force troops at Al-Udeid, said more servicemen will join the unit of "core space operators" that will monitor enemy movements, operate satellites, and attempt to prevent conflicts in space.

"We're starting to see other nations that are extremely aggressive in preparing to extend conflict into space. We have to be able to compete and defend and protect all of our national interests", Colonel Todd Benson, director of Space Force troops at Al-Udeid, told The Associated Press.

Colonel Benson declined to say which countries are preparing to extend conflict into space with the United States.

The deployment of troops, however, follows months of heightened tensions between the United States and Iran. It also comes two months after Washington said Russia had tested a space-based anti-satellite weapon. Back in July, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that the White House was using the claim to justify its plans to deploy weapons in space and noted that the so-called weapon was merely an inspector satellite.

Previously, US Defence Secretary Mark Esper claimed that Russia and China are developing weapons that could damage US satellites, paralyse cell phones, drones, fighter jets, aircraft carriers, and even nuclear weapon controllers.

Talk about an independent Space Corps has been going on for years in the United States. In 2001, US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld called for the creation of an interagency group for space in the National Security Council, as Washington feared US assets in space could be threatened.

In 2018, Donald Trump flirted with the idea of creating a sixth branch of the military. "We will call it the Space Force”, Trump said during an address to Marines in March of 2018. Three months later, he ordered for the process of forming the new military service to begin.

Trump’s decision has been criticised both internally and externally. Opponents of the idea in the United States view the Space Force as a way to get points ahead of a presidential election and questioned the branch’s necessity. Critics also note that the US initiative could result in a new arms race in space, which may threaten the world.