An Atlas V for the U.S. Space Force-7 mission, the Boeing X-37B space plane, lifts off on May 17 (United Launch Alliance Photo)

On June 30, the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force (USSF) announced the finalization of the command structure of the Space Force, a sixth military branch created in December, 2019 through the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.

The Title 10-authorized Space Force will have three echelons of command–field commands, deltas, and squadrons, whereas the Air Force currently has five echelons. The structure is to consolidate, align, organize, train and equip mission execution from former Air Force space-related units.

“This is the most significant restructuring of space units undertaken by the United States since the establishment of Air Force Space Command in 1982,” Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett said in a statement. “Innovation and efficiency are driving our mission as we position the Space Force to respond with agility to protect our nation’s space capabilities and the American way of life.”

The Space Force will have three field commands–Space Operations Command (SpOC) and Space Systems Command, led by three-star generals–and Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM), led by a two-star general.

Colonels or Navy Captains will lead deltas, which will be organized around a specific function, such as operations, installation support, and training. Squadrons within the deltas will focus on specific tactics. “When the field command structure is fully implemented, it will eliminate one general officer echelon and one O-6 echelon of command,” Space Force said. “Functions formerly performed at the eliminated echelons will be realigned where appropriate within the USSF.”

Gen. Jay Raymond, USSF chief of space operations, called the Space Force command structure organization a “historic opportunity to launch the Space Force on the right trajectory to deliver the capabilities needed to ensure freedom of movement and deter aggression in, from and to space.”

“How we organize the Space Force will have a lasting impact on our ability to respond with speed and agility to emerging threats in support of the National Defense Strategy and Space Strategy,” he said in the USSF statement.

SpOC will be the primary force provider of space forces and capabilities for combatant commanders, coalition partners, and the joint force and the nation.  The staff and operations elements of USSF at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, which is also the former Air Force Space Command, will become the headquarters for SpOC.

SSC will be responsible “for developing, acquiring, and fielding lethal and resilient space capabilities for warfighters,” according to USSF. “Additionally, SSC will be responsible for launch, developmental testing, on-orbit checkout, and sustainment and maintenance of USSF space systems, as well as oversight of USSF science and technology activities.  Acquisition and development organizations to include the Space and Missile Systems Center, the Commercial Satellite Communications Office, and program offices of space systems transferring to USSF from other DoD organizations will form the building blocks of the new command, which will be built out in the months to come.”

STARCOM is to train and educate space professionals, and develop combat-ready space forces to address the challenges of the warfighting domain of space.  Complete standup of STARCOM is scheduled for 2021.