Space Force Moving Ahead “Full Speed” Despite the Coronavirus

Space Force Moving Ahead “Full Speed” Despite the Coronavirus

Gen. Jay Raymond, Chief of Space Operations, told reporters last week that establishing the U.S. Space Force is moving forward at “full speed” despite the coronavirus pandemic.  Indeed, the Secretary of the Air Force has now announced 23 Air Force organizations whose space-related missions will transfer to the Space Force in the next three to six months.

General John (Jay) Raymond, Chief of Space Operations and Commander, U.S. Space Command,, briefing reporters at the Pentagon, March 27, 2020.

Raymond, who is dual-hatted as CSO and Commander of U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM), briefed reporters on Friday at the Pentagon.

Emphasizing that the Space Force and USSPACECOM are focused on safeguarding the health of “our people, our communities and our mission” during the COVID-16 outbreak, he offered assurances that they are still “executing our 24/7 no-fail missions to protect and defend our nation’s space interests….”  He cited the launch of the Advanced Extremely High Frequency-6 (AEHF-6) communication satellite the previous day as an example.

Asked if members of the squadron that controls GPS satellites, which are critical for both military and civilian applications, are being proactively tested for COVID-19, Raymond said no, they are following the guidelines.  However, “we are segregating those crews, if you will, from other crews to make sure they don’t come into contact.  I’m very comfortable that we’ve taken the appropriate measures at this time.”  Social distancing and monitoring of temperatures to detect fevers are in effect.

Despite the situation, “we are moving out full speed and I’m really, really pleased with the progress that we’re making on establishing the Space Force” as it approaches its 100th day birthday.  Some activities, like renaming four Air Force bases (Patrick, Schreiver, Peterson and Buckley) as Space Force bases will be postponed because they want to hold ceremonies, but everything else is going ahead.

As another step in that direction, yesterday Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett announced 23 organizations that soon will transfer to the Space Force (an asterisk signifies that it is a partial mission transfer).

  • 7th Test Squadron, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado
  • 18th Intel Squadron, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
  • 25th Space Range Squadron, Schriever AFB, Colorado
  • 328th Weapons Squadron, Nellis AFB, Nevada
  • 527th Space Aggressor Squadron, Schriever AFB, Colorado
  • 705th Combat Training Squadron OL-A, Schriever AFB, Colorado
  • 7th Intel Squadron, Ft. Meade, Maryland*
  • 16th AF/Advanced Programs*, Schriever AFB, Colorado
  • 32nd Intel Squadron, Ft. Meade, Maryland*
  • 566th Intel Squadron, Buckley AFB, Colorado*
  • 544th ISR Group Staff & Detachment 5, Peterson AFB, Colorado
  • Detachment 1, USAF Warfare Center, Schriever AFB, Colorado
  • 533rd Training Squadron, Vandenberg AFB, California
  • National Security Space Institute, Peterson AFB, Colorado
  • AFRL Research Lab Mission Execution, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio*
  • AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate, Kirtland AFB, New Mexico*
  • AFRL Rocket Propulsion Division, Edwards AFB, California*
  • AFRL Electro-Optical Division, Maui, Hawaii & Kirtland AFB, New Mexico*
  • AFRL Sensors Directorate, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio*
  • Counter-Space Analysis Squadron, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
  • Space Analysis Squadron, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
  • Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Detachment 4, Peterson AFB, Colorado
  • Air Force Safety Center – Space Safety Division, Kirtland AFB, New Mexico

A total of 1,840 billets will be transferred to the Space Force as a result of these changes, but do not involve the physical movement of units, people or billets to different geographical locations.

Today, Space Force is comprised primarily of units that were under the former Air Force Space Command (AFSPC).  Organizationally they made the switch on December 20, 2019, the day President Trump signed the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act into law creating this new military service.  The 16,000 AFSPC personnel, however, were only assigned to Space Force.  They would have to resign from the Air Force and transfer to the Space Force to change services. That process will take place over a period of time.  Raymond is the first, and to date only, member of the Space Force, but on Friday he revealed who will be the second  — Chief Master Sergeant Roger Towberman.  His official transfer is one of the events that will be delayed until a formal ceremony can be held. [Update: his transfer was accelerated and he was sworn in on April 3.]  In addition, 64 cadets graduating from the Air Force Academy on April 18 will be directly commissioned into the Space Force.


Update:  An earlier version of this article referred to Air Force Academy graduation in May, but SecAF Barrett just announced graduation is being accelerated to April 18 due to COVID-19.

The Washington Post later today published a story with a troubling explanation of why the decision was made.


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