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There are 'thousands' of decisions to make about the new Space Force, but the military's 2nd-highest-ranking officer already knows the 'perfect partner'
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
The US military's newest service, the Space Force, is only about a month old, having been signed into law by President Donald Trump on December 20.
There are "thousands and thousands of actions" that have to happen to get the new force up and running over the next 18 months, Air Force Gen. Jay Raymond, head of the new branch, said that day. But the first deadline is already looming: An initial organization plan that Congress wants by February 1.
Space Force officials are already considering who should be recruited and how, what new groups should comprise the service, and how doctrine will shape its path forward, but that's just the start.
"There's a lot of decisions that have to be made up front. There's a lot of things that have to happen," Air Force Gen. John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Friday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
"We've gone ahead and already moved 16,000 people" into Space Force, all of whom are from the Air Force, Hyten said. Those active-duty and civilian staffers were assigned at Space Force's inception, but people will need to volunteer and re-enlist as part of a formal transfer process over the next few months.
Space Force, which was created from Air Force Space Command, will be housed within the department of the Air Force. But decisions won't be limited to how Space Force works with the Air Force, said Hyten, who previously led Strategic Command and has long worked on space operations.
"We have to look at the Army and the Navy, and we have to look at the Guard, because you actually can't do the the space mission without the National Guard. The National Guard is a perfect partner for the space mission — much more perfect than many other missions that we have the Guard do."
"It's perfect because it's, in many cases, a state-side mission, a homeland mission, that's done in one place," Hyten said. "You can build very, very good expertise in that one area and have a Guard unit that is focused on a singular mission. It's perfect."
A Pentagon official told CQ Roll Call this week that the Trump administration was preparing to send Congress a legislative proposal for fiscal year 2021 that would establish National Guard and Reserve units for Space Force.
Staying ahead of Congress
The relationship between Space Force and the other service branches still has to be sorted out, particularly how Army or Navy personnel could be involved in the new branch, Hyten said.
"We only have about a year to figure it out, maybe a little bit less, because Congress is going to make a decision next year about how the Army and Navy [are] going to be treated, and we need to try to be ahead of that," Hyten said.
Those branches and the Marine Corps have traditionally had "an element that knows how to integrate space into your force," be it a maneuver unit or a fleet, Hyten said.
"That's actually a service function that should stay in the service," Hyten added. "Then you have capabilities like flying satellites, building satellites, delivering satellites — that's a Space Force function. So as we move into the future, we have to figure out which element goes in the Space Force and which element stays in the service."
All the services need that space capability, Hyten said, so figuring out the division will be one of the first things the new force needs to do, lest Congress decide for them.
"We would like to make sure that we have a voice in that decision, which means we have to do it pretty quick," Hyten said. "Because come this summer, probably as soon as posture hearings, Congress is going to be asking that question."
Space Force is not designed or intended to send combat troops into space. Rather, it will provide forces and assets to Space Command, which was reestablished in August 2019 and will lead military space operations.
Space Command is a unified combatant command — like Strategic Command, which oversees the nuclear arsenal, or Transportation Command, which manages transportation for the military — but has yet to have a permanent headquarters.
Asked on Friday about a timeline for that decision, Hyten said it was one he, as vice chairman, was not involved in but that he thought it would come in the next year.
"The Air Force set up a really good process, each of the services have, about how you do a basing decision, and it's kept very close hold, and it goes through a very structured process because it becomes so political," Hyten said. "You want to make sure you have all your ducks in a row to do that."
Hyten added that he was sure Barbara Barrett, the secretary of the Air Force, "knows exactly where it is right, and I don't, but I do know that we need a decision, I think, this year."
More from Business Insider:
- The US Army is thinking about the threat of nuclear war again and wants to make sure it has the right people to deal with it
- The US Air Force finally has a Space Force, and now some of its bases could be getting new names
- The US now has a Space Force and a Space Command. It's not clear what each will do, but commanders are excited
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.
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
We are women veterans who have served in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Our service – as aviators, ship drivers, intelligence analysts, engineers, professors, and diplomats — spans decades. We have served in times of peace and war, separated from our families and loved ones. We are proud of our accomplishments, particularly as many were earned while immersed in a military culture that often ignores and demeans women's contributions. We are veterans.
Yet we recognize that as we grew as leaders over time, we often failed to challenge or even question this culture. It took decades for us to recognize that our individual successes came despite this culture and the damage it caused us and the women who follow in our footsteps. The easier course has always been to tolerate insulting, discriminatory, and harmful behavior toward women veterans and service members and to cling to the idea that 'a few bad apples' do not reflect the attitudes of the whole.
Recent allegations that Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie allegedly sought to intentionally discredit a female veteran who reported a sexual assault at a VA medical center allow no such pretense.
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.