For the first time in 60 years, Congress has paved the way for the creation of a new military branch: the United States Space Force.
Until now, American military interests in space have mainly fallen under the purview of the U.S. Air Force, specifically Air Force Space Command. Defense officials have argued, however, that the U.S. needs a dedicated space command that could take over from the Air Force, as well as consolidate other smaller elements that fall under other branches of the military.
With next year’s defense spending bill, Congress has authorized the creation of the new military branch. The Air Force initially envisioned a starting force of approximately 200 individuals, with that number growing to 15,000 by the end of 2024.
According to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) summary, published by the House Armed Services Committee, “The FY20 NDAA recognizes space as a warfighting domain and establishes the U.S. Space Force in Title 10 as the sixth Armed Service of the United States, under the U.S. Air Force. In doing so, the NDAA provides the Secretary of the Air Force with the authority to transfer Air Force personnel to the newly established Space Force. To minimize cost and bureaucracy, the Space Force will require no additional billets and remains with the President’s budget request.
“The conference agreement creates a Chief of Space Operations (CSO) for the U.S. Space Force who will report directly to the Secretary of the Air Force and become a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. During the first year, the CSO may also serve as the Commander of U.S. Space Command. The CSO will provide updates to the committees of jurisdiction every 60 days, with briefings and reports on implementation and establishment status.”
Under this proposed structure, Space Force would enjoy a similar relationship to the Air Force as the U.S. Marines have with the Navy. The Marines fall under the authority of the Department of the Navy, although they are an autonomous branch of the military. Similarly, the Space Force CSO will report to the Secretary of the Air Force, yet the Force will be an autonomous military branch, complete with a member on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
It’s a safe bet there will be plenty of interest in this new military branch, with Colorado Springs already hoping to be the Force’s headquarters.