Navy and Marine Corps space leaders said Monday they have not determined the impact a Space Force would have on their own personnel, while noting that there are ongoing discussions with the Pentagon to advise officials on the potential creation of the new military branch.
Rear Adm. Christian Becker, commander of Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, and Brig. Gen. Lorna Mahlock, the Marine Corps’ chief information officer, told attendees at a Navy League Conference there is no decision on how their space workforce and experts may be shifted to Space Force and committed to continuing their current efforts to provide next-generation information capabilities in the domain.
“The Department of Defense is studying the implementation of a Space Force, and as part of that assessment and analysis the Navy is participating in how we can best support the startup of that Space Force,” Becker said.
Becker and Mahlock’s comments contrast with those of Gen. James McConville, the Army’s vice chief, who told the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) last week his staff has determined it can shift 500 civilian and military personnel to a potential Space Force, if required, in fiscal year 2022.
Mahlock said it was a “little bit premature to have that discourse” on the Marine Corps’ role in how the development of Space Force would specifically affect her space-based workforce.
The president signed a directive last June to stand up Space Force as the sixth military branch. In February, a subsequent order was issued to have the new branch initially organized under the Air Force before eventually transitioning to its own department.
Officials said the new Space Command, reactivated as a combatant command in 2018, will play a main role in determining how the Navy will use its personnel in supportive roles for future space-based objectives.
Becker noted that much of his space-focused SPAWAR personnel are not limited to projects in the domain, with their work cutting across several different lines of efforts.
“Our officers and sailors that are involved in the mission areas that touch on space are also very involved other mission areas,” Becker said. “All of my space cadre acquisition members, who are involved in the acquisition of space-based capabilities, are fundamentally involved in acquisition of other naval capabilities.”
Lawmakers during an April hearing expressed skepticism on the current Space Force implementation plan, noting the additional bureaucracy it could create and the challenge of filling a request for 16,500 personnel (Defense Daily, April 12).
Mahlock acknowledged that reorganizing the current space enterprise could help the Marine Corps’ air-ground task forces to broaden its range of projects with a new emphasis on space-based capabilities.