WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force headquarters offices at the Pentagon will begin a gradual expansion over the next year as new positions are filled and officers from the former Air Force Space Command transfer into the new service.

One of those officers is Brig. Gen. DeAnna Burt, director of Space Force operations and communications at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs.

“We’ve been slowly but surely building what is called the Office of the Chief of Space Operations,” Burt told SpaceNews by phone from Colorado Springs.

Burt is helping Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond organize the Space Force headquarters.

When Congress established the Space Force on Dec. 20, 2019, it renamed the Colorado Springs-based Air Force Space Command the U.S. Space Force. “We’re slowly standing down the headquarters here over the next year and standing up the office of the chief of space operations staff there in D.C.,” said Burt.“The headquarters in Colorado Springs will go away in the next year.”

Burt was recently nominated for a second star and the rank of major general. Along with hundreds of other Air Force officers in space career fields, Burt this fall will be leaving the Air Force and joining the Space Force.

“That’s when I get to wear the cool blue thread,” she said referring to the Space Force battle dress uniform.

The Space Force initial headquarters will have about 200 people, or a fraction of the size of the other military services’ headquarters. Burt said the Space Force staff because of its small size will need significant support from the Air Force.

The Space Force is expected to be about 16,000 personnel. For now the majority are airmen assigned to the Space Force. Over the next year, thousands of airmen from space-focused organizations are expected to transfer over.

Space Force HQ vs Space Command HQ

U.S. Space Command was established only a few months before the Space Force was signed into law. Many people still conflate the two even though they are entirely separate organizations. Burt said she would like the public to clearly understand the difference.

As a military service, the Space Force has responsibilities under Title 10 of the U.S. Code to organize, train, equip prepare, and maintain forces. In a conflict, those forces would be assigned to a combatant command. U.S. Space Command is one of the U.S. military’s 11 combatant commands.

The Air Force recently announced an open bidding process to select the future location of U.S. Space Command headquarters, which for now will remain in Colorado Springs.

The headquarters of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps are located in the Pentagon. The Space Force would be no different.

Burt said the new process for selecting the location of U.S. Space Command headquarters gives the Air Force a chance to consider fresh options. “General Raymond thinks it’s exciting and offers us an opportunity to look at some different locations,” she said.

‘The discussion that we’re having right now is where does U.S. Space Command headquarters go? The Space Force, the service headquarters, will be in D.C. with all the other service headquarters,” said Burt.

If U.S. satellites came under attack it would be the responsibility of U.S. Space Command to recommend a plan of action to the secretary of defense and the president. The skilled operators and equipment that would be needed to protect satellites and respond to adversaries’ actions would be provided by the Space Force.

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...