Air Force Association Proposes Alternative to Space Force

Federico Mansilla
Setiembre 22, 2018

Specifically, such commentators have criticized the Air Force for devoting too little money to space, acting too slowly in acquiring materials for space, failing to promote its personnel involved with the space mission and, finally, dismissing space as a domain in which to wage war.

You may have heard about President Trump's plans to build a space force, what would be a sixth branch of the US military.

The current force structure of 312 squadrons is too small to meet even the current mission focused on counterterrorism in the Middle East, Wilson said at the Air Force Association's Air, Space, Cyber Conference outside Washington.

"The President has clearly communicated his desire for a military department for space", she wrote.

Lt. Gen. John Thompson, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center, Air Force Space Command, said the reorganization would cut the number of decision levels in half to three and is considering a new PEO model that would redistribute authority from the single PEO authority to multiple deputies. That's right. The Air Force has proposed increasing to 386 operational squadrons by the year 2030, which means an estimated additional 40,000 personnel needed.

The Air Force has a rich history of employing cutting-edge military tech.

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Yesterday, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson spoke at the conference and spelled out her views on "The Air Force We Need".

Critics have described Wilson's cost estimates as overblown in an effort to dissuade lawmakers from supporting the breakup the Air Force.

The Air Force is "really pushing" for rapid cyber acquisition capabilities in line with the branch's existing rapid capabilities office and the one being stood up under its Space Command, Skinner said during a panel on cyber operations in a multi-domain environment. "From an employment perspective effects from air and space have been integrated and are indivisible". That is especially critical in space programs, she said, because the operators have to be able to influence equipment design. But this reliance on space has also become a vulnerability - a dynamic that has not escaped the attention of competitors and adversaries such as China and Russian Federation, which have also bolstered their own space capabilities over the past two decades. Moving forward, the Air Force will be expected to satisfy a more robust set of requirements - including defending the homeland, defeating a peer adversary, providing a nuclear deterrent, dealing with rogue nations and fighting extremists all over the world - that will require a substantially larger force, Wilson said. "To do a Venn diagram on what it is we want to accomplish - everything lays on top of one another". "Standing up a separate space bureaucracy amplifies the problem..."

"We have an Air Force RCO, we also have a space RCO that's just being stood up at Kirtland Air Force Base", Skinner said.

Driven by these trends, the US military has focused on improving its defenses in space so it can better defend against and counter an attack on its space assets.

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