The Air Force has submitted plans to the White House to begin transferring its space-related capabilities to the forthcoming Space Force next fiscal year, according to a memo obtained by Defense Daily.
A Dec. 2 memo from Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett to Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist involves the Air Force’s recommendation for a U.S. Space Force Presidential Budget 2021 (PB21) submission, and includes expectations for when agencies and non-Air Force space-related programs might move into the new branch.
It states that the service plans to transfer about $9.3 billion of space-related weapon systems and operations to the Space Force. As early as fiscal year 2021, the Air Force will also transfer about $1.4 billion in weapon system sustainment/central asset management; $275 million in major command support; $26 million in education and training; and nearly $95 million in space-related headquarters funding, along with the personnel costs associated with those programs.
Space-related Special Access Program (SAP) funding will transfer from the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO), the Space RCO and other Air Force organizations that same year, the memo said. “The aggregated amount of USSF SAP dollars will be treated as an unclassified fact,” it said.
The fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) provides for the current Air Force Space Command to be re-designated as the new U.S. Space Force and authorizes the transfer of Air Force-related programs and personnel, along with service agencies like the Space RCO and DoD shops including the Space Development Agency (SDA). Hill sources said Tuesday that space-related assets in the Army and Navy may be included at a later date, following multiple reports from the Pentagon laying out a path forward for the new branch (Defense Daily, Dec. 10).
But the memo from Barrett to Norquist shows a more concrete timeline has been considered on the service side.
“I fully expect the Space Development Agency (potentially upon enactment of legislation) and the US Army and US Navy space units (with all associated resources and personnel) will transfer to the USSF no later than FY22,” she said.
House lawmakers involved in the crafting of the Space Force legislation said Wednesday that other service’s space programs may be integrated at a later date, and that the stand-up of the Space Force would be a multi-year project.
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), a longtime supporter of creating a “Space Corps” under the Air Force, told reporters Wednesday that the Senate had had reservations for prior legislation about how much responsibility a new Space Corps might take on.
“This put them at ease, that this was going to be a gradual process of three to five years to get to a fully decorated Christmas tree,” he said.
There are also currently no plans to integrate intelligence community-related space agencies into the Space Force, as had been previously considered.
The National Reconnaissance Office and the National Geo-Spatial Intelligence Agency were never intended to be part of the new military branch dedicated to space, said Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s strategic forces subcommittee and a longtime advocate of a Space Corps, and now Space Force.
“They have been operating actually pretty well, so why mess that up?” he said.