The first budget crafted and developed by personnel assigned to the U.S. Space Force will be included in the fiscal year 2022 budget request, the service’s number-two officer said April 23.
While the budget submitted in the FY ’21 request was technically the first for the new Space Force, most of the work was conducted by the Air Force ahead of the service’s establishment and then converted to a separate budget line ahead of the document’s submission, said Lt. Gen. David “DT” Thompson, Space Force vice commander in a webinar hosted by Space News.
Now, the handful of leaders officially commissioned into the Space Force and their colleagues who are currently assigned to the Space Force but still technically airmen – Thompson included – are in the middle of assembling the FY ’22 budget. “It’s an interesting exercise, as we do it in a COVID environment,” he noted, referencing the coronavirus pandemic.
The Space Force’s standup will be in full swing over the next three months, as the first official Space Force cadets graduated from the Air Force Academy earlier this month and the service is opening the window for Air Force personnel to voluntarily transfer into the Space Force beginning May 1, Thompson said. The first members who would be automatically accepted into the service upon volunteering are space operators, but the service also has a requirement for a set number of intelligence officers and engineers as well as cyber and acquisition professionals. That window will be open for the full month and then the Space Force will go through the process of transferring them, Thompson said.
That opportunity is currently restricted to Air Force personnel. Thompson said the service is still working with the Army and Navy for how to best include members of those services into the Space Force, and expects those decisions to be made by next year. However, the Defense Department has an existing general authority for members of other services to request a cross-commissioning, “and there is certainly nothing to prevent folks from using that today,” he said.
Plans are still being worked to see how Defense Department elements such as the Space Development Agency or the Missile Defense Agency could be included in the Space Force, he added. “You might anticipate things happening as soon as next year in that regard,” Thompson said.
The Pentagon’s focused response to the coronavirus pandemic has forced the Space Force to put several culture-related Space Force decisions on the back burner, he noted. The service had planned to make several announcements in April to coincide with the annual Space Symposium event, to include revealing the service’s logo, renaming key Air Force bases to “Space Force Bases,” and announcing what personnel in the Space Force will be called.
“That’s probably one of the few areas that has slowed down a little bit, mostly because the focus naturally of our senior leaders [has been] on COVID, the response and the activities there,” Thompson said. “But it’s still moving forward. We still anticipate that near-term.”