Hyten: Challenges Remain in Building Space Force Budget

By Mandy Mayfield

Image: iStock

One of the most difficult aspects of building out the architecture of a stand-alone Space Force is accurately budgeting for the service, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Jan. 29.

In June 2018, President Donald Trump called for the creation of a new space-focused military branch. The United States Space Force was officially established in December of last year, and is currently part of the Department of the Air Force, much like the Marine Corps is a separate military branch but part of the Department of the Navy.

Budgeting “is going to be one of the hardest things that we have to figure out,” Gen. John Hyten said during a Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies event in Washington, D.C. “It actually was one of the last concerns about bringing the Space Force under the [Department of the] Air Force, because for whatever reason the broader community had come to the opinion that the Air Force wasn’t taking care of space.”

Before the creation of the new Space Force branch, the Air Force oversaw the vast majority of the U.S. military’s space programs. The Navy and Army also use space systems.

"We are basically going to have to carve out the different elements of the space [portfolio], segment that so Congress can see what they are — [and] have the Space Force be able to structure that and manage that," Hyten said.

Congress will get more insight into exactly what the funding is going toward, he added.

Some space programs are part of the Pentagon’s so-called “black budget” to cloak them in secrecy, and are highly classified. That makes it extra challenging to provide more visibility into resource allocation, Hyten suggested.

“I’ll just say a significant portion of the space budget is not in a place where you in this room could see it," he told the audience.

“That is a problem,” he added. “It’s a problem for us to explain to the American people how important space is. It is a problem for the Congress to understand exactly what the full expenditures of Space Force [are] so they can explain to their constituents what we're doing.”

Meanwhile, bolstering joint all-domain command-and-control is a top priority for the Joint Staff. The Pentagon now considers space to be a warfighting domain on par with land, air, sea and cyber.

“The key is to create an environment where all services can integrate all domains and effectively operate, ... but in order to do that effectively you have to be able to access all the data,” Hyten explained.

The joint requirements oversight council is having discussions about what requirements the services need to achieve their goals.

“I don’t know how that process is going to end up. But I can tell you one thing: it is not going to be a list of performance criteria that you have to do 10 years from now,” Hyten said. “That is how we have been building requirements [but] that is not how we are going to build requirements for this.”

Hyten said the oversight council is going to focus on incorporating innovation and allowing for developmental and operational flexibility for the services.

Topics: Budget, Space

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