BREAKING: Air Force to Transfer 23 Units to Space Force
Image: Surrey Satellite Technology LtdNearly two dozen space-related Air Force units will be transferred to the Space Force over the next three to six months, a major move in building up the new service, the Defense Department announced March 31.
The organizational construct of the Space Force, a new branch of the military which was stood up in December, is still being fleshed out. Its establishment was a top priority of President Donald Trump. The Pentagon now views space as a warfighting domain on par with land, air, sea and cyberspace, as adversaries such as China and Russia continue to advance their anti-satellite capabilities.
The Space Force currently is mostly made up of units which fell under what was previously Air Force Space Command before the new service came into existence. The upcoming transfer of 23 units is a significant step in beefing up the organization.
“Building the U.S. Space Force represents a top priority for the Department of the Air Force,” Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett said in a news release. “These mission transfers incorporate existing forces into the agile Space Force, which stands ready to defend American and allied interests.”
The units being transferred include: 17th Test Squadron, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado; 18th Intel Squadron, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; 25th Space Range Squadron, Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado; 328th Weapons Squadron, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada; 527th Space Aggressor Squadron, Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado; 705th Combat Training Squadron OL-A, Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado; 7th Intel Squadron, Ft. Meade, Maryland; 16th AF/Advanced Programs*, Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado; 32nd Intel Squadron, Ft. Meade, Maryland; 566th Intel Squadron, Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado; 544th ISR Group Staff & Detachment 5, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado; Detachment 1, USAF Warfare Center, Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado; 533rd Training Squadron, Vandenberg Air Force Base, California; National Security Space Institute, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado; Air Force Research Laboratory Research Lab Mission Execution, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate, Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico; AFRL Rocket Propulsion Division, Edwards Air Force Base, California; AFRL Electro-Optical Division, Maui, Hawaii & Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico; AFRL Sensors Directorate, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; Counter-Space Analysis Squadron, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; Space Analysis Squadron, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Detachment 4, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado; and Air Force Safety Center-Space Safety Division, Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein and Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond will execute the reorganization when they jointly agree the necessary conditions have been met to allow for a smooth transfer, according to the Space Force news release.
The transfer will involve approximately 1,840 Air Force billets. However, the organizational reshuffling will not involve the physical movement of units or billets to a different geographic location, the release noted. Personnel, infrastructure and capabilities will remain where they are now. Their missions will simply be transferred to the Space Force.
Notably, airmen and Air Force civilians will not be compelled to join the new service.
“In the coming months, and when appropriate provisions are in place as part of a separate process, military members who meet applicable criteria will be given the opportunity to volunteer to transfer to the Space Force,” the release said. “If they choose not to transfer, they will remain in the Air Force and assigned to the Space Force unit until their normal assignment rotation is complete, at which time they will be moved to an assignment within the Air Force.”
Meanwhile, Air Force civilians will remain Department of the Air Force employees regardless of whether they are serving in Air Force or Space Force billets. The Space Force is part of the Department of the Air Force even though it is a separate branch of the military, much like the Marine Corps is part of the Department of the Navy.
More organizational moves could be coming down the pipeline.
“As the standup of the Space Force continues, additional space missions may be identified for transfer,” according to the release.