This year, military leaders continued to push Congress to create a new National Guard as part of the fledgling Space Force, but lawmakers are still not convinced.
The National Defense Authorization Act of 2022, promulgated on Monday by President Joe Biden, left out the provision for the creation of a space national guard and one that would rename the air national guard to “national guard” air and space “.
Instead, lawmakers argued that they did not have enough information to create another branch of the National Guard.
“This year’s NDAA is requesting additional information from the Department of Defense on the creation of a National Space Guard, because, put simply, we don’t know enough about the total cost and bureaucratic demands of this expansion.” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), a leading member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said through a spokesperson on December 14.
Other spokespersons for SASC President Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and the House Armed Services Committee did not respond to emails on the matter.
Under the new law, the Defense Secretary must review the Army Reserve component, made up of National Guard and Reserve units in the armed forces, how their space assets are allocated now and how they could be in the future.
The Air Force Department, to which the Space Force reports, wants to move forward with its plan to integrate elements of the Guard and Reserve into the new service. This would allow the Space Force to retain control over its own decisions about operations and personnel management, rather than having units reporting to both the Air Force and the Space Force.
Officials hope the setup will be more flexible than full-time and part-time military work in other armed forces, in part to better retain its members and attract more talent from the private sector.
“We have conducted studies on how best to design this integration and will continue to work with partners from the Department of Defense, Office of Management and Budget, Office of the National Guard and Congress to set the path forward. monitor and research the legislation necessary to begin this integration, ”Air Force Department spokeswoman Lynn Kirby said on Tuesday.
What should happen to Guardsmen and Reservists who run space missions as Airmen has been a point of contention since the Space Force was created in December 2019. This is the third year in a row that Congress has called on the army to suggest a way forward, or to study the issue further before lawmakers take concrete action.
NDAA 2021 called on the Air Force Department to report on how best to organize space-focused guards and reservists. Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond, the Senior Space Force Officer, said in June that the newspaper was nearing the end of its approval process before heading to Capitol Hill.
The Defense Department declined to answer several Air Force Times questions about the contents of the report.
One school of thought suggests a two-part structure: Space Force, encompassing a single group of active duty personnel and part-time reservists; and the Space National Guard to manage State missions and some missions abroad.
Another proposal from the Office of the National Guard in February 2020 would have moved about 1,500 people from the military and Air National Guard in seven states and one U.S. territory to a space national guard. Officials argued that this would streamline chains of command by allowing these units to report to the Space Force and minimize new costs.
More than a dozen Air National Guard units manage space missions, including airmen in Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, New York, Ohio, and Guam. The guards use ballistic missile warning and nuclear detection systems, help track forest fires from above, wage offensive electronic warfare, and pilot communications satellites, among other space-related missions.
Last year, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that the Space National Guard could include up to 5,800 people, compared to about 1,500 members of the Army and Air National Guards currently. A smaller National Space Guard could cost between $ 100 million and $ 490 million per year, and between $ 20 million and $ 900 million in one-time construction and equipment costs.
The CBO also predicted that hosting Space Force Reservists would cost about $ 100 million per year, plus about $ 20 million in one-time construction costs.
The Biden administration surprised Space Guard supporters when it spoke out against the plan in September, citing the CBO’s cost estimate.
“The creation of a space national guard would not provide new capabilities – it would rather create a new government bureaucracy,” the White House said. “Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units responsible for space missions have effectively fulfilled their role without any negative effect on the DOD’s space mission since the inception of the Space Force. “
Inhofe said the issue underscores the need to spend more money on national defense as a whole.
“What we do know is that National Guards are doing space missions today, so we have to get it right. Moreover, the Pentagon does not have enough money to do what it is already charged to do – let alone to expand its responsibilities, ”he said.
Rachel Cohen joined the Air Force Times as a senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has been featured in Air Force Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy, the Frederick News-Post (Md.), The Washington Post and others. .