JUST IN: Space Force ‘Magnet’ for New Talent

By Mandy Mayfield
(From left to right) Kathleen Hicks; Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy; Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett; Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly

Photo: Navy

The recently established Space Force is attracting a slew of new talent and young people to the armed services, said the secretary of the Air Force Feb. 21.

“One of the things that's happening right now is that the Space Force has been an extraordinary magnet for young people to want to be a part of the military,” Barbara Barrett said. “Many young people have said, 'I didn't want to be a part of the military, but I want to be a part of the Space Force.'"

The positive uptick in interested military candidates is benefiting the Air Force as well, she said during an event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

“I wouldn't be surprised that the Navy and the Army also are getting a resurgence of attention and attraction because the Space Force is bringing positive attention to the military,” she added.

The Space Force's first budget request as a “separate but co-equal” branch was rolled out this month by the Trump administration. It is seeking $15.4 billion in fiscal year 2021, according to budget documents.

“I think we really have been under appreciating space overall," Barrett said. "We went from a time ... where every young person was motivated by it, to more recently it's been a shrug. ... Because of the Space Force, it has come into its own again."

Meanwhile, the Navy — working alongside the Air Force — is considering which resources under its department will transition over to the Space Force, said Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly.

The sea service is dependent on having access to space capabilities, he said. "In particular, when you look out in the Pacific theater … it's a lot of water and it's a lot of space that we have to have awareness on and our ships can't operate without their dependence or interdependence on the space domain," he said. “We're working very, very closely with the Air Force on that.”

The same is true for the Army, which is the largest user of space capabilities in the Defense Department, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said.

“It really comes down to the operating concept of how [the Army] is going to fight in the future,” he said. “For us to be able to mitigate a hypersonics threat, [the service] is going to need a low-Earth orbit satellite architecture.” 

Meanwhile, the secretaries said they are working on their service's goals without expecting a potential increase to the topline budget in fiscal year 2021. President Donald Trump's administration released its FY 2021 budget Feb. 10, which called for $705.4 billion in Pentagon spending. That represents just an $800 million increase over the enacted 2020 level excluding natural disaster relief and emergency funding, according to budget documents.

“I'm not moving out with any assumption that there is going to be an increase in topline," Modly said. "We have a pretty big mandate to grow the fleet by thirty, forty percent from where it is today and at some point those elements of math are not going to match up."

Both McCarthy and Barrett echoed Modly’s sentiment.

“We don't anticipate a topline growth, though we certainly have ways that we could use it,” Barrett said. 

Topics: Space, Budget

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