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It's official: the Space Force is here to bring freedom and liberty to the stars
The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2020 officially agreed upon by key lawmakers in the House and Senate would officially establish the U.S. Space Force as the sixth branch of the U.S. armed forces.
The leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees unveiled their $738 billion conference agreement for the 2020 NDAA on Monday, which covers subjects from adversaries like Russia and China to major reforms to the private military housing system.
Assuming The NDAA passes both chambers of Congress, and is signed into law by the president, the United States Space Force Act, would redesignate Air Force Space Command as the United States Space Force (USSF), a new department within the Department of the Air Force not unlike the Marine Corps's status within the Navy.
The NDAA includes $72.4 million to stand up a new Space Force headquarters. It is unclear at this time exactly how many personnel will transfer from the Air Force to the nascent department.
According to the language, the Space Force has two primary goals: to provide freedom of operations in outer space and to facilitate "prompt and sustained" space operations.
Its specific duties include protecting U.S. interests in space, deterring aggression from other space-facing adversaries, conducting any and all space operations required by the U.S. government.
To achieve these goals, the NDAA would establish the Chief of Space Operations, a general in charge of the Space Force who, subservient to the Secretary of the Air Force and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, would oversee "the space forces and such assets as may be organic therein," according to the language.
Those assets will be determined by a new 'Space Force Acquisition Council' established within the office of the Secretary of the Air Force by the 2020 NDAA to "manage acquisition and integration of the Air Force for space systems and programs in order to ensure integration 17 across the national security space enterprise."
That council would include not just the Chief of Space Operations, but a new Senate-confirmed Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Acquisition and Integration who will "synchronize" existing space system efforts and oversee the Space and Missile Systems Center, Space Rapid Capabilities Office, and Space Development Agency.
Beyond the new space acquisition executive, the NDAA would also establish an Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy whose principal duty "shall be the overall supervision of policy of the Department of Defense for space warfighting.''
(Sadly, the position does not appear to come with the title "Sky Marshal")
It's unclear what "space warfighting" will actually look like, but one thing is clear at the moment: When the Pentagon imagines war in space, it is absolutely not concerned with alien adversaries — yet.
Seventy-five years ago Wednesday, Fred Reidenbach was aboard a Navy patrol craft loaded with radio gear, helping to coordinate the landing at Iwo Jima, a volcanic island the U.S. military hoped to use as a staging area for the eventual invasion of Japan.
Reidenbach was a 22-year-old sergeant with the 4th Marine Division from Rochester, New York, and recalls that it was cold that day. The Marines were issued sweaters, heavy socks and 2.5 ounces of brandy to steel them for the task ahead: dislodging 21,000 Japanese soldiers from heavily fortified bunkers and tunnels. Reidenbach wasn't a drinker but didn't have trouble finding someone to take his brandy.
"I passed it on to somebody who liked it better than me," he said.
Though the Army has yet to actually set an official recruiting goal for this year, leaders are confident they're going to bring in more soldiers than last year.
Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, head of Army Recruiting Command, told reporters on Wednesday that the Army was currently 2,226 contracts ahead of where it was in 2019.
"I will just tell you that this time last year we were in the red, and now we're in the green which is — the momentum's there and we see it continuing throughout the end of the year," Muth said, adding that the service hit recruiting numbers in February that haven't been hit during that month since 2014.
KABUL/WASHINGTON/PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - The United States and the Taliban will sign an agreement on Feb. 29 at the end of a week long period of violence reduction in Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Taliban said on Friday.
Active-duty service members, Reservists and National Guard members often serve side-by-side performing highly skilled and dangerous jobs, such as parachuting, explosives demolition and flight deck operations.
Reservists and Guard members are required to undergo the same training as specialized active-duty troops, and they face the same risks. Yet the extra incentive pay they receive for their work — called hazardous duty incentive pay — is merely a fraction of what their active-duty counterparts receive for performing the same job.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, D-3 of Moorestown, are partnering on legislation to correct the inequity. Known as the Guard and Reserve Hazard Duty Pay Equity Act, the bill seeks to standardize payment of hazardous duty incentive pay for all members of the armed services, including Reserve and National Guard components.
Another Marine was hit with jail time and a bad-conduct discharge in connection with a slew of arrests made last summer over suspicions that members of a California-based infantry battalion were transporting people who'd crossed into the U.S. illegally.