Majority of Army’s space soldiers will not transfer to the Space Force

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SN Military.Space Sandra Erwin

The Army’s top leaders have voiced full support for the Trump administration’s Space Force proposal but don’t plan to turn over the entire Army space cadre to the new service. The blueprint that the Pentagon submitted to Congress creates a new space branch of about 15,000 people, mostly by transferring personnel from the other services.

The Army has about 2,500 active-duty soldiers, reservists and civilians involved in space programs and operations at the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. But only 500 would transfer to the Space Force, according to written answers to questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee submitted by Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville in advance of this May 2 confirmation hearing to be the Army’s next chief of staff. “If confirmed, I will support the Army’s full participation in the office of the secretary of defense initiatives to mature Space as a warfighting domain,” McConville wrote, noting that the Army is the “biggest user of space systems in DoD.”

After analyzing the makeup of the Army’s military and civilian space cadre — what career fields, military occupational specialties and civilian occupations would be consolidated in the new Space Force — the Army has identified approximately 500 military and civilian satellite operators, planners, and engineers who could be considered for potential transfer to the Space Force, McConville wrote. The transfer of 500 people amounts to about $175 million over five years that the Army would shift to the Space Force. The 500 are a mix of people from the communications, engineering, and information management career fields directly supporting global space operations.

The Army will retain its space cadre of about 2,000 military and civilian personnel who support Army operations or are part of the staffs supporting units in the field. McConville said he expects that those 500 people identified as candidates to transfer to the Space Force will do so voluntarily and with minimum “adverse impacts.” In the written questions to McConville, the Senate Armed Services Committee said members have been informed by constituents that highly specialized, space-qualified civilian employees raised concerns about being forced to transfer.  McConville’s response to the committee is that “Army planners will continue to work closely with the office of the secretary of defense to minimize the potential for negative effects on personnel as a result of transfers.”

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