Army Secretary: Still unclear what portions of the Army would move to the Space Force

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Army Secretary Mark Esper: “There are ongoing discussions on how the Army would support the Space Force."

WASHINGTON — Army Secretary Mark Esper said no decisions have yet been made on what parts of the Army would move to a Space Force if the new service were created.

“There are ongoing discussions on how the Army would support the Space  Force,” Esper told reporters on Monday at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual symposium. “Over time those details will be worked out. We’ll see what parts move where,” he said.

The Army will be a “team player” in the reorganization, Esper said.

At stake would be the future of the Army Space and Missile Defense Command based at Redstone Arsenal, Ala. Two space reorganization proposals that have been submitted for consideration — one by Air  Force Secretary Heather Wilson and the other by Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin — recommend moving at least some portions of the Army Space and Missile Defense Command to the Space Force.

About 2,220 active-duty soldiers, reservists and civilians work in space-related jobs under the Army Space and Missile Defense Command, which also is known as Army Forces Strategic Command. The command is dual-hatted, reporting both to the chief of staff of the Army and the chief of U.S. Strategic Command.

“Army is a big user of space,” Esper said. “We’re heavily reliant on it,” he added. Asked how the space reorganization might affect how the Army gets space-based services, he said, “It’s critical that we get it right.”

Army space forces focus on five key missions – intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; missile warning; environmental monitoring; satellite communications; and positioning, navigation and timing, or PNT.

More than 70 percent of the Army’s major weapons and equipment need satellites to function. Each Army brigade requires at least 2,500 PNT devices and 250 satellite communications terminals.

The 53rd Signal Battalion of the Army 1st Space Brigade manages a portion of the Wideband Global Satcom network of satellites the military relies upon for routine communications, broadcasting and data sharing.

The Army also deploys its own satellites. One of its constellations of small satellites is called SNAP, short for Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command’s nanosatellite program. Last year the Army launched its Kestrel Eye remote sensing satellite from the International Space Station. About the size of a small refrigerator, Kestrel Eye takes high-resolution pictures for Army commanders on the ground.