The U.S. Space Command’s stand up is well underway, with initial responsibilities identified and over 600 U.S. Strategic Command personnel scheduled to transfer, but leaders have not yet determined an initial operating capability date.
The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) considered the nomination of Air Force Space Command Commander Gen. John Raymond to be the next U.S. Space Command commander June 4. The committee also considered the nomination of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Director Christopher Scolese to become the next director of the National Reconnaissance Office.
Raymond’s responses to the committee’s advanced policy questions, also released Tuesday, revealed new details about how USSPACECOM transition plans are moving along.
The Defense Department plans to transfer about 640 personnel from USSTRATCOM to USSPACECOM to form the initial cadre, the documents said. Those numbers would include personnel from the STRATCOM headquarters staff, the entire Joint Force Space Component Command staff, and various manpower authorizations related to missile warning, navigation warfare, space defense and other “24/7 space mission operations centers.”
“Manpower estimates to achieve Full Operational Capability will be completed in the coming months, but we expect the USSPACECOM headquarters to be sized consistent with other combatant commands,” Raymond said in his advance responses. The Defense Department has not yet selected a site for the new command’s headquarters, but is evaluating four bases in Colorado as well as Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., and the Army’s Redstone Arsenal, Ala. (Defense Daily, May 15).
Raymond detailed in his prepared response various responsibilities that will be shifted from U.S. Strategic Command to U.S. Space Command, to include conducting offensive and defensive space operations, providing warning and assessment of attacks on space assets and defending on-orbit assets, and providing space capabilities to combatant commands, allies and other partners.
According to Raymond’s prepared responses, schedules for reaching milestones for U.S. Space Command, to include initial operating capability and full operational capability, have not yet been determined. He noted, however, that the termination of U.S. Strategic Command support and an assessment that Space Command and its components are fully mission-capable will be significant in determining when Space Command reaches full operational capability.
SASC lawmakers wanted to know Raymond’s perspective on the risks and benefits of working with private industry to accomplish certain U.S. Space Command and Air Force Space Command missions. Raymond noted that AFSPC is already leveraging mechanisms such as the Commercial Integration Cell, a partnership with commercial satellite companies based out of Vandenberg AFB, as well as DOD-commercial space situational awareness agreements.
“The benefits of partnering with private industry far outweigh the risks, and the best mitigation is continued cooperative engagement,” he said in the documents.
If confirmed, Raymond told lawmakers Tuesday that he would work with the geographic combatant commanders to fully integrate planning across all domains.
His prepared documents noted two ongoing efforts synchronize space planning across the combatant commands, including the Joint Space Warfighting Forum – a quarterly forum convened by the Air Force Space Command Commander and NRO director – and integrated planning elements at U.S. European Command, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and U.S. Strategic Command.
Raymond told the committee Tuesday that his first tasks as USSPACECOM commander would be to ensure the seamless transition of the command and control of space capabilities while taking steps to strengthen readiness and lethality to address space as a warfighting domain.
“Structurally, we need to sustain our partnership with USSTRATCOM while we stand up new, independent organizations,” Raymond said in his prepared responses. “Operationally, we must strengthen our capability and capacity to plan and employ space forces as part of a globally integrated team. … Culturally, we need to solidify our shift in the development of the Joint Force to realize the potential of multi-domain operations.”