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Future Army Contributions to Space Force Discussed

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U.S. Army
Thursday, January 16, 2020

Pentagon discussions are underway about what capabilities, if any, the Army may be asked to contribute to the new Air Force-controlled U.S. Space Force.

Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said the division of assets could be complicated. “This is a task that hasn’t been done since 1947,” he said, referring to when the Army Air Corps became the Air Force.

The big question, he said, is “what are the things that need to stay organic to the Army?” That isn’t simple, he said, noting the Army has watercraft and helicopters, things that might logically go in the Navy and Air Force.

Some of these decisions will rest on how the Space Force’s mission is defined, McCarthy said. So far, the discussion has focused on how the Space Force is organized.

The new and sixth branch of the military, created by the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, was limited by Congress to include, at least at the start, only Air Force personnel and Air Force systems, but changes are expected. It is headed by Air Force Gen. John Raymond, who along with this next assignment will receive a seat within a year on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The arrangement will be similar to that of the Marine Corps, which is part of the U.S. Navy but the commandant is a member of the Joint Chiefs.

The Space Force would include members of Air Force Space Command, supported by other Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air Force civilian personnel, but not members of the Army or the other services, at least not in the beginning. Army Space and Missile Defense Command assets and personnel are not part of the Space Force under current law.

The new law does not authorize any additional military positions and does not allow Space Force to take any assets from the other services. That could change in the future after the Air Force provides a total force management plan to Congress for review. Raymond is required to provide Congress with a comprehensive organizational structure by Feb. 1, including a detailed description of the structure and organizational elements, training and equipment, and how it will coordinate with the other services.