U.S. Capitol

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SN Military.Space Sandra Erwin

Once approved by the White House, the Pentagon will send a legislative proposal to Capitol Hill that lays out how the Space Force would be organized. Then officials will begin to brief lawmakers and staffers and they are sure to face a lot of tough questions. One of the least talked about subjects is where the members of the new service will come from. DoD has insisted that the Space Force will be built mostly with existing resources, which means transferring people from the Air Force, Navy and Army. The proposal asks Congress for special authorities to do precisely that.

“That is a big, big issue that a lot of people don’t talk about,” a DoD official said in response to a SpaceNews report. Even lawyers in the Pentagon have wondered if it’s even legal to involuntarily transfer a member to a new service, he said. “It would be a real issue if they don’t address that as they roll this out.” These are the kind of questions that need to be flushed out as the Pentagon prepares to pitch the proposal to the Hill, he said. “The narrative must be deeper on the topic.”

Personnel moves are complicated but could be turned into an advantage for the Space Force, the official noted. “While we must protect members in their current ranks and grades, we should utilize relief from doctrinal constraints that plague other services. We should consider new hiring and firing mechanisms, as well as more flexible promotion timelines. They should really put into place some radical authorities that allow them to keep pace with the private sector.”

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...