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Preparing for War in Space, Air Force Reshuffles Leadership Team


The Air Force has created a senior military role to directly oversee space missions, giving it an equal footing on the Air Staff at the Pentagon.

The service announced Friday that Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson has approved a reorganization to establish a deputy chief of staff for space operations, a three-star position. The service has not named the first person to fill the role.

"This is the next step in our effort to integrate, normalize and elevate space operations in the Air Force," Wilson said in a release.

"The United States is dependent on space, and our adversaries know it," she added. "We must organize and train forces to be able to prevail in any future conflict which could extend into space."

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Over the next two months, officials will begin delegating staff to the A-11, as the new position is known, establishing operations and identifying additional senior leaders who will work within the new staff, the release said.

The Air Force in April announced it would create the position based on increasing concerns over the potential for war to break out in space.

The new leadership would "come to work every day focusing on this: Making sure that we can organize, train and equip our forces to meet the challenges in this domain," Gen. Jay Raymond, head of Air Force Space Command, said at the time during the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  

"A new three-star deputy chief of staff for space ... will increase decision-making speed and help ensure freedom from attack and freedom to maneuver," Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said Friday.

"The Air Force culture evolved to own the skies and is now best postured to lead space into this information age and prepare our people and systems to achieve space superiority so the warfighter has what's required to win," he said.

The Air Force secretary will still, however, continue to be the principal adviser to the defense secretary on space over the next year as leaders work on the new approach, the release said. Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work approved this chain of command, it said.

The Air Force has been preparing airmen for a future in which war is waged in space, with training on hardening satellites against anti-jamming technology to protecting spacecraft from incoming missiles.

In recent months, Goldfein has said he wants the service to be "the lead service for space."

The service wants space operators to see attacks in space as part of their normal training to be "ready for those threats, so if another country tries to attack those assets, they've seen this type of thing before, they defend, and the adversary loses," Lt. Col. Kyle Pumroy, chief of Space Force Structure Plans for the Space and Cyberspace Superiority Division of the Air Force's Directorate of Strategic Plans, has said.

"There really is no such thing as a space war -- it's just war," Pumroy told in April.

"The nature of the threat has changed," he said. It drives the need for the U.S. "to provide ... a training avenue that prepares the joint warfighter for those types of threats, whether that be anti-satellite weapons launched to blow up satellites, or nefarious [weapons] in orbit. Those are the types of things we need to prepare the warfighter for now."

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