The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is plowing ahead and setting up the framework for a new Space Force even while Congress has not yet given its approval. The Pentagon is moving forward by setting up three of the four departments that will make up the new Space Force, according to Defense One which saw firsthand the plans for establishing the force.
The new Space Force will be made up of the following four components –
- Combatant space command
- Joint agency for purchasing military satellites
- Warfighting community composed of space operators from all service branches
- Creating a new branch of military with responsibilities like finance management and facilities construction
A New Age of Space Technology
Pentagon has commenced work on the first three components because these do not require strict legislative approval. But the fourth, creating an entirely new branch of the military, will be deferred until Congress signs off on it. The DoD is preparing an extensive legislative proposal on the Space Force initiative that would be delivered to Congress early next year so that it could be included in the government’s 2020 budget proposal.
Deputy defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, the Pentagon’s Number Two civilian, is developing the whole Space Force plan for execution. He has outlined the entire plan in a 14-page draft report that will be submitted to legislators later next week.
“The Department of Defense is establishing a Space Force to protect our economy through deterrence of malicious activities, ensure our space systems meet national security requirements and provide vital capabilities to joint and coalition forces across the spectrum of conflict,” says the draft report. “DoD will usher in a new age of space technology and field new systems in order to deter, and if necessary degrade, deny, disrupt, destroy and manipulate adversary capabilities to protect U.S. interests, assets and way of life. This new age will unlock growth in the U.S. industrial base, expand the commercial space economy and strengthen partnerships with our allies.”
U.S. Space Command and a Space Operations Force
According to the draft report, a new U.S. Space Command which will be the eleventh unified combatant command will be established by the Pentagon before the end of this year. The commander of the U.S. Space Command will be the current head of the Air Force Space Command until the government decides otherwise.
The draft also says the Pentagon will establish a new Space Operations Force, made up of uniformed and civilian space personnel from the four military services and the National Guard and Reserve.
“Similar to Special Forces personnel provided by all military services, the Space Operations Force will be composed of the space personnel from all Military Services, but developed and managed as one community,” it says.”
One of the more complicated aspects will be how a new Space Force affects the U.S. Airforce which is already involved in monitoring space. The Airforce is already operating 77 satellites in orbit, and the Navy has 12 communication satellites.
Some legislators had proposed adding a Space Force as a new branch of the Air Force, but in recent months the push has been to establish an entirely new military branch, which is also what Trump has expressed a desire for. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson stated that the organizational structure wouldn’t matter as long as the operational abilities were focused on.
“Both the chief of staff and I are actually very glad that … people are becoming more aware and having a debate about what we do about this as a nation. That just wasn’t really there before,” Wilson said during a Washington Post event on July 25.
“I think the most important thing is to say focused on the warfighter and maintaining the lethality of the service, no matter how the org-chart boxes go,” Wilson said. “It’s all about the ability to fight. If we keep focused on that and not on which boxes move around which place in the Pentagon, then we’ll do the right thing for the nation.”