Space Force Gearing Up

Space Force Gearing Up

The Air Force has submitted its report to Congress laying out initial plans for standing up the Space Force.  The 20-page memo is one of many required by the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to keep Congress apprised of exactly how DOD and the Air Force will structure this new sixth military service and keep it from growing out of bounds.

The Space Force became a reality on December 20, 2019 when President Trump signed the NDAA into law.  It is part of the U.S. Air Force, analogous to the Marine Corps, which is part of the Department of the Navy.  Secretary of the Air Force (SecAF) Barbara Barrett now has co-equal services — the Air Force and the Space Force — reporting to her led by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, and Chief of Space Operations (CSO) Gen. John “Jay” Raymond.

Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, Air Force Chief of Space Operations and Commander, U.S. Space Command

Raymond was Commander of Air Force Space Command (AFSPC), which was redesignated as U.S. Space Force that day.  During a briefing that afternoon, Raymond explained that the “16,000 active duty airmen and civilians” in AFSPC would be “assigned to the United States Space Force.”

The NDAA required the SecAF and Secretary of Defense to submit a report  by February 1, 2020 on a “comprehensive plan for the organizational structure of the United States Space Force.”  As first reported by Inside Defense, it was submitted yesterday.

It explains that “assignment” is temporary and separate from Service affiliation.  Becoming a member of the Space Force will require a “transfer,” not an assignment.

Initially, the Space Force will be comprised of military personnel and Air Force civilians involved in directly supporting space operations in specific career specialties that are being referred to as Space Force Core Organic (SFCO).  In the near term it will be limited to a “narrow group of specialists” who will be offered the opportunity to transfer into the Space Force, but in the long term will grow to 15,000 – 16,000 personnel. They will have to resign their commission or terminate their enlistment with the Air Force, Army, or Navy, and re-commission or re-enlist into the Space Force.  Air Force transfers are expected in FY2020-FY2021, with Army and Navy beginning in FY2022.

As that language reflects and other parts of the report reiterate, DOD still wants to incorporate Army and Navy space capabilities into the Space Force.  That is not permitted by the NDAA, which limits Space Force to only Air Force personnel and specifies that no extra billets may be created for it.

One of Congress’s major concerns in creating the Space Force is that it will grow into an unwieldy and expensive bureaucracy.  It directed that the Space Force leverage Air Force infrastructure and the report says that the Office of the Chief of Space Operations has concluded that the end-state size of Space Force headquarters can be 20 percent less (800 people instead of 1,000) than originally estimated.  That is the end-state size.  Initially it is allotted only 160 billets and 40 detailees in FY2020.

Raymond is currently wearing several hats.  He is not only the new Air Force CSO leading Space Force, but he is also Commander of U.S. Space Command.  The six military services, including Space Force, are responsible for the “organize, train, and equip” function, while the 11 unified combatant commands, including Space Command, are in charge of command and control of military forces in peace and war.

The NDAA further directed that the CSO become a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) one year after the law was enacted, but the report says that Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the JCS, has already invited Raymond to participate.

With so many responsibilities for the CSO, the report says the SecAF plans to recommend that a Vice Chief of Space Operations  (VCSO) position be created in statute.  It would be equivalent to other Vice positions in the other military services.  She intends to recommend a general officer to be nominated for that position, which would require Senate confirmation.

DOD committed last year that the additional cost of Space Force would be no more than $2 billion through FY2024.  The White House plans to submit its FY2021 budget request next week and the report says it delivers on that commitment.

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