The chief of the National Guard Bureau, Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, told the House Appropriations Committee’s defense (HAC-D) panel on May 4 that “the establishment of a Space National Guard” is one of his top priorities and suggested that such a force would help the National Guard sustain its role in space missions.
Hokanson said in his prepared testimony that the National Guard has supplied 11 percent of U.S. Space Force personnel and that the Air National Guard provides 60 percent of the Space Force’s offensive space electronic warfare capability. The Air National Guard’s 14 space units in seven states–Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, New York, and Ohio–and in Guam “are conducting daily missions in support of global Combatant Command operations,” per Hokanson’s prepared remarks.
Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), the ranking member of HAC-D, told Hokanson that he has been “very supportive” of the creation of a Space National Guard, especially for states with significant space missions, such as California, and asked Hokanson about the status of Pentagon recommendations on the establishment of a Space National Guard.
Hokanson replied that he believes that DoD is “fairly close” on such counsel and that he has briefed Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks and is to meet with acting Air Force Secretary John Roth and Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond on May 5th.
“I think our final meeting will be in preparation of meeting with the Secretary of Defense [Lloyd Austin],” Hokanson testified. “Right now, both the [acting] Secretary of the Air Force and the Chief of Space Operations are in agreement with us of a two component construct, that of an active and Reserve combination–a combined component–and then a Space National Guard.”
HAC-D Chairwoman Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) told Hokanson that she is “looking forward to a breakdown on how much this is going to cost to set up a Reserve and a Guard Space Force, as you’re referring to, what it would look like in all 50 states, and if it’s kind of a hybrid where you’re using facilities that are already in existence with the Air Force.”
A report last June by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the Defense Department could spend hundreds of millions, or billions, of dollars to form a Space National Guard to complement the U.S. Space Force depending on how large the Pentagon plans the Space National Guard to be (Defense Daily, June 4, 2020).
Since the Space Force–the sixth military branch–was established in the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, questions have arisen on the method for establishing a Space National Guard. In February last year, senior leaders of the National Guard Bureau proposed a plan that would convert existing Air and Army National Guard units that work in space to form a Space National Guard.
The CBO report, released last June, analyzes two options – the first considering if the existing space-related units in the Army and Air National Guard were transferred into the Space National Guard, and the second considering if the Space National Guard were to reach a size that was proportional to the Air National Guard’s size relative to the Air Force, about 32 percent the size of the active component.
Under the first proposal, about 1,500 personnel would transfer from the Air and Army National Guards into a new Space National Guard, along with an assumed 50 to 90 personnel in the training pipeline, the report said. Creating this size of a Space National Guard would require additional annual operation and support costs of $100 million, plus $20 million for onetime construction costs.
“It is unclear to what degree such a force would require additional administrative overhead,” the CBO said, noting that each state or territory that would be affected by transfers would already be organized to administer and command those units via the existing Guard structure. “However, it is likely that a small number of additional personnel would be needed in each state or territory affected, as well as some personnel for national functions,” the report said, estimating about 260 new personnel would come into the new Guard.
It would require 4,900 to 5,800 personnel to form a Space National Guard whose size relative to the Space Force would be similar to that of the Air National Guard to the Air Force, the report said. That would include the space-related Air and Army National Guard Units described in the first option, plus another 3,400 to 4,300 full-time and part-time positions. Using numbers based on average operation and support costs per capita for Air National Guard personnel, the CBO estimated such a size force would cost between $355 million to $460 million per year for personnel costs, plus about $30 million per year to support national functions.
The larger Space National Guard would additionally require $400 million to $900 million in onetime costs to equip the new units and build new facilities such as armories.