2 June 2020
Space Force Nat'l Guard Likely to cost 4100M/year: CBO
by Theresa Hitchins
WASHINGTON: Creating a limited Space Force National Guard and Reserve along the lines proposed by Adjutant Generals in February will cost about $100 million each year to operate, says the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). An additional $20 million might be incurred by DoD in one-time costs for the construction of new facilities, says a new study released today.
Senior leadership of the Guard and Reserve, including Gen. Joseph Lengyel, head of the National Guard Bureau, have argued strenuously that a separate component is needed to support the Space Force to maintain a smooth chain of command and a consistent training profile.
And they have some pretty strong backing on Capitol Hill.
“The Guard and Reserves have existing space capabilities and talents that fit within the mission of the Space Force. There absolutely needs to be a Guard and Reserves component to the Space Force so that these talented individuals can contribute to the success of the Department,” said Rep. Ken Calvert, ranking member on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense (HAC-D) in an email statement to Breaking D today.
DoD, however. has decided to put off making a decision, instead launching a study on the issue expected to be finalized sometime next year. Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett and Space Force chief Gen. Jay Raymond told a House Armed Services Committee (HASC) meeting in March that a component would be created, it was just a matter of how.
Some in Congress, such as Republican Rep. Steve Womack who sits on the HAC-D, have expressed frustration at DoD’s delay.
A spokesperson for Womack said he supports the need for a reserve component. “As previous hearings have shown, he intends to use his position on the House Defense Appropriations Committee to push for its creation. His experience as a Guardsman and his roles on HAC-D and the Budget Committee have proved to him the utility, adaptability, and cost-effectiveness of the National Guard – all things the Space Force could benefit from,” the spokesperson said in an email to Breaking D today.
On the other hand, another House Republican aide said that DoD is doing what HASC asked in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act: taking a considered look at the issue. For example, the aide said, while Rep. Mac Thornberry, HASC ranking member, is of the view there “could be advantages” to a Guard and Reserve component because it allows “access to a pool of talent” DoD often struggles to attract, the aide explained, he also wants to see what DoD recommends.
The Adjutant Generals, by contrast, have been directly lobbying their congressional representatives for support in forcing DoD’s hand sooner rather than later.
In February, Adjutant Generals from a number of states proposed that only the some 1,500 Air Force and Army Guard and Reserve personnel now serving should be shifted to Space Force. There are space operations specialists in eight states and one US territory: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, New York, and Ohio, plus Guam.
They asserted that a Space National Guard and Reserve is required to keep current space specialists aligned with their active duty counterparts. Should those personnel remain in their current chain of command, there could be future disconnect in training and equipment being used by active duty and guard troops.
Further, Guard leaders said, if the current organization is maintained, there will be an extra step in the chain of command for calling up guard space professionals — that is, Raymond will have to go to the Air Force and Army secretaries to get permission.
Finally, they argued, space professionals in the Guard bring a high-level of expertise to the military because they have “day jobs” in industry and academia in space specialities.
David Deptula, head of the Mitchell Institute, agreed with the need to ensure Space Force can keep the expertise now provided by Guard and Reserve forces. In a May 18 op-ed in Forbes, he wrote: “The Reserve and National Guard are critical personnel elements and may be part of the solution to the Space Force’s personnel challenges by tapping into the talent from the civilian space community.”
What supporters of a Guard and Reserve component for Space Force are not arguing for is an expansive “Space Guard” to protect future commercial interests in space — a concept that has captured some within the national security space community.
For example, Coast Guard officer Michael Sinclair argued in a recent Breaking D op-ed that rather than setting up a civilian space traffic management agency as proposed by the Trump administration in Space Policy Directive-3, “America would be better served by consolidating all commercial launch-to-orbit-to-landing oversight and regulatory functions within the “prevention” arm of a new ‘Space Guard’.”
While CBO did not study such model, it did look at a larger Space Force Guard and Reserve Component mimicking the size of the current Air Force National Guard — which numbers about one-third of the Air Force. Under this approach, the Space National Guard would comprise some 4,900 to 5,800 personnel, CBO says, and cost DoD some $385 million to $490 million in annual operating costs. An additional onetime costs of $400 million to $900 million would be needed to constructing additional facilities and equip the new units, CBO added.