Funding for New Space Force Headquarters in 2020 Budget Request

"Welcome to Space Country" greets visitors to Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. (US Air Force)
"Welcome to Space Country" greets visitors to Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. (US Air Force)

The Pentagon's fiscal 2020 budget request offers some insight into plans for setting up the U.S. Space Force, the military's newest branch.

The Defense Department has requested funding for nearly 830 military service members and civilians to man the Space Force headquarters at the Pentagon, the Space Development Agency and U.S. Space Command, according to its fiscal 2020 budget request.

As previously disclosed, the Pentagon is requesting $72.4 million in fiscal 2020 to bring together manpower and resources at the headquarters level and $2 billion over five years to fund the Space Force.

While Space Force will fall under the Department of the Air Force, according to a directive signed by President Donald Trump in February, the service so far has oversight only over its initial creation, allocating dollars out of its budget as the first step in implementing the DoD's long-term vision.

The Pentagon is asking Congress for another $150 million for the Space Development Agency (SDA) and $83.8 million for U.S. Space Command, which will be the military's 11th unified combatant command.

"The [Defense Department] will transfer 587 military and civilian authorizations and funding from the National Space Defense Center, Joint Force Space Component Command (JFSCC), Joint Navigation Warfare Center [and] other organizations to USSPACECOM," the budget documents state. The command will get an additional 30 people, for a total of 617.

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Plans include transferring 20 people from other space organizations within the DoD to the Space Development Agency, and hiring an additional 30 for a total of 50 personnel.

The most important element, according to DoD officials, is to authorize 160 personnel for the Space Force headquarters at the Pentagon, "plus additional contractor and detailee" support. The DoD has identified 120 service members and civilians who currently have space-related jobs who could transfer into the new service and is requesting 40 additional, permanent individuals to help with the standup, according to budget documents.

While a unified combatant command -- a stepping stone to creating a U.S. Space Force -- does not need congressional approval to be established, the president must nominate and lawmakers must confirm a four-star general to lead the organization.

Under the proposed chain of command, the Air Force secretary will be "responsible for training and equipping two separate and distinct military services: the U.S. Space Force and U.S. Air Force," according to the DoD. Like the Marine Corps, which exists under the Department of the Navy, a four-star would oversee the Space Force and have a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

While a group of lawmakers is already lobbying to have U.S. Space Command in their home state, officials have yet to identify potential locations for either the SDA or U.S. Space Command.

Progression has stalled because of language in the last National Defense Authorization Act, according to a recent report from DefenseOne.

In the 2019 NDAA, Congress mandated that USSPACECOM become a subordinate to U.S. Strategic Command. In January, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan sent a letter to Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, asking for the language to be removed, DefenseOne said.

The Pentagon wants the SDA to fall under the "authority, direction and control" of Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael Griffin, Space News said in January. The SDA would oversee satellite and other space equipment acquisition, taking on what the existing Air Force Space and Missile Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, already does.

But some elements of the setup remain unclear, according to the Air Force's top civilian.

"I have some concerns about what is the mission of [the Space Development Agency]," outgoing Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told reporters at the annual Air Force Association's Air and Space conference in Florida in February. "Why do we think it would be better than what we currently do, and what exactly would it be focused on?"

Wilson was one of the first Pentagon officials to predict the Space Force would be a mammoth undertaking. In a memo, she asserted that the Pentagon would need roughly $12.9 billion over five years to resource personnel and infrastructure for the branch.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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