RAND study: U.S. Space Force has to define its mission

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The study says most space operational units and space acquisition organizations in DoD should be moved to the Space Force.

WASHINGTON — As the U.S. Space Force begins to organize as an independent military service, it needs to clearly define its mission and work to develop a singular identity, says a RAND Corp. study released March 16.

The study recommends that most, of not all, DoD space activities should be consolidated under the Space Force to ensure the new service has sufficient size and resources going forward.

RAND is a federally funded research organization. The Space Force study was requested by Maj. Gen. Clinton Crosier, who led the planning effort to stand up a space service under the Department of the Air Force.

The study was delivered to the Air Force in September 2019, about three months before the Space Force was officially established in the National Defense Authorization Act. Neither RAND nor the Air Force had publicly released its findings until now.

RAND notes that the Space Force that was established by the NDAA “does not exactly match the administration’s earlier guidance for the new service.” That statement refers to the administration’s original proposal to merge all Air Force, Army and Navy space activities under the Space Force. Congress only authorized transfers of Air Force personnel to the space service.

The study says most space operational units and space acquisition organizations in DoD should be moved to the Space Force.

RAND recommends that the Space Force headquarters build up resources that are essential to the independence and identity of the service such as experts who can develop operational concepts and doctrine, and put together budget plans. The study says the Space Force should have its own legislative liaisons and public affairs staff.

“Lack of a coherent doctrine of space warfighting would present a challenge to the Space Force’s effectiveness in its early years and make it more difficult for the service to build a distinctive identity,” RAND analysts say. “The small size of the Space Force relative to other services could also decrease its leverage in the defense community.”

The study says the Space Force should start training personnel for space operations, space intelligence, space acquisition and science. “Some Air Force career fields will need to develop a ‘space track’ to ensure the additional training and development that will be necessary for the Air Force officers who will serve in the Space Force,” the study says. According to RAND, the Space Force, with an initial estimated size of 16,000 personnel, will need to draw many of its general officers from the Air Force or other services.