Department of Defense “Moving Out” on Plans to Create new Space Force
Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan recently informed the White House National Space Council that the Department of Defense (DOD) is “moving out” on plans to create a Space Force. The concept of a U.S. Department of the Space Force was initially floated by the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) as an entity within the Air Force. In the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress specifically directs DOD to conduct on study on the prospect.
Vice President Pence, who is also chair of the National Space Council, released the final report over the summer. The findings of the study include an extensive list of supportive actions the Trump administration proposed to bolster the space force. These actions include: creating a unified combatant command, U.S. Space Command; creating a Space Operations Force to support the U.S. Space Command; creating a joint Space Development Agency to ensure the Space Force has cutting-edge warfighting capabilities; and creating a new civilian position at DOD, an Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space, reporting to the Secretary of Defense, with responsibility and accountability for standing up and scaling up the U.S. Department of the Space Force.
While the Administration cannot order the creation of a new military department without congressional authorization, Deputy Secretary Shanahan explained that there is a legislative proposal in the works that will be submitted to Congress as part of the FY2020 budget process. The proposal contains six recommendations that have been approved by the Space Council. Those recommendations are:
- Forming a United States Space Command to control our space forces and develop the tactics, techniques, and procedures for military space operations.
- Establishing the Space Force as a separate and distinct branch of the military whose mission will be to organize, train, and equip combat space forces.
- Calling on Congress to authorize the establishment of a Space Force and provide funding for the United States Space Command.
- Launching a joint review by the National Space Council and National Security Council of existing space operational authorities for meeting national security objectives, informed by DOD’s assessment of the authorities required.
- Creating a Space Development Agency to ensure Americans in the Space Force have cutting-edge warfighting capabilities.
- Creating collaborative mechanisms with the Intelligence Community to improve unity of efforts for the development of space capabilities and operations.
Before it is submitted to congress, the proposal will go to the President for final approval.