U.S. Space Force organizational plan delivered to Congress

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The NDAA require Space Force updates on a continuous basis until March 2023.

WASHINGTON — Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett on Monday delivered to congressional leaders the first comprehensive proposal for how the U.S. Space Force will be organized as a separate military branch under the Department of the Air Force.

The report was mandated by Congress in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act that President Trump signed on Dec. 20.

The NDAA, which authorized the U.S. Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed services, set tight oversight requirements. It requires the secretary of the Air Force and the Chief of Space Operations of the U.S. Space Force to regularly brief defense and appropriations committees through March 2023.

The report delivered Feb. 3, a copy of which was obtained by SpaceNews, stresses that the Space Force will not have the traditional layers of bureaucracy that Congress cautioned it did not want to see in the new service. “Building the Space Force from the ground up is an historic opportunity to take a clean sheet approach to designing a twenty-first century military service with a streamlined organizational structure,” says the report.

Another congressional priority — ensuring that the Space Force is given autonomy even though it’s under the Air Force — also is addressed in the report.

The Air Force is “one department with two co-equal services and service chiefs,” says the report, noting that the chief of space operations and the chief of staff of the Air Force have equal status. The chief of staff of the Air Force, for example, has directed the Air Staff to “foster trust while enabling the autonomy required of the new independent service.”

The Space Force in fiscal year 2020 is allotted a total of 200 people. The plan is to grow the staff over the next five years “within existing DoD resources,” says the report.

Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond’s deputy will be the vice chief of space operations. The report says a candidate will be named by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

The Space Force will have field commands and subordinate tactical units. More specific details on this will be provided to Congress in April, according to the report.

One of the proposed field organizations is a Space Training and Readiness Command. The Space Force “must have the capacity to focus on doctrine, space training and education, space warfighting concepts, and overall readiness,” says the report. This command also would be set up using existing resources.

The majority of the Space Force funding initially will be transferred from the Air Force. The report says in the future the new service will not require more than $500 million annually over and above what DoD spends currently on space organizations. Total additional costs would not exceed $2 billion over the next five years, says the report.

To keep the service lean and focused on space warfighting duties, the Air Force will provide most of the support functions. For example, Air Force members in career fields such as public affairs and nursing will be assigned to the Space Force to provide support while remaining in the Air Force.

Personnel in the relatively narrow group of space career specialties will be offered the opportunity to formally transfer into the Space Force. “To do so, those members will formally resign their commission or terminate their enlistment with the Air Force, Army, or Navy, and re-commission or re-enlist into the Space Force,” says the report.

Air Force member transfers are anticipated to begin in fiscal year 2020, while Army and Navy member transfers are anticipated to begin in fiscal year 2022 pending congressional approval.

Another topic of great interest to Congress — how the Space Force will organize acquisition offices — is mentioned in the report. The goal is to bring the Space and Missile Systems Center, Space Development Agency, Space Rapid Capabilities Office and space elements of the Air Force RCO under a single authority. In the NDAA, Congress established a new assistant secretary of the Air Force for space acquisition and integration. Details on how that new office will be organized will be provided March 31 in a separate update also mandated by the NDAA.

The report says the Space Force will rely on the National Guard and Reserve for skilled personnel. But the Space Force also will consider other approaches to human capital management “especially designed for the space mission set and the needs and preferences of the current generation.” More details on this will be provided to Congress in another report due in March.

The report says the Space Force will access officers in the same manner as the Air Force and other services do today — through Officer Training School, Reserve Officer Training Corps and U.S. military academies.