Senior military officials are “fairly close” on a plan to add a reserve component to the Space Force, the head of the National Guard Bureau told lawmakers Tuesday.
Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson plans to meet on Wednesday with acting Air Force Secretary John Roth, as well as Space Force Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond, to hash out the final details of pitching a two-part military service.
The idea would be to combine active-duty personnel and reservists into one group, which leaders hope will offer more job flexibility than is typical in full-time military service. It would also create a National Guard for space missions.
Air Force and Space Force leadership are in agreement on the path forward, Hokanson said.
“We’ve had an opportunity to brief the deputy secretary of defense already,” he added. “I think our final meeting will be in preparation of meeting with the secretary of defense.”
A National Guard spokesperson did not immediately answer when the plan will head to the defense secretary for approval.
National Guard units have taken on space missions for 25 years, and Army and Air National Guardsmen now make up 11 percent of Space Force personnel, Hokanson said in written testimony provided to the House Appropriations defense subcommittee.
The Air National Guard has space units in seven states — Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, New York, and Ohio — plus Guam.
“National Guard space units have provided operational, unit-equipped, surge-to-war capability to protect our nation’s vital interests in this contested domain and today supply the Space Force with … 60 percent of offensive electronic warfare capability,” he said.
Guardsmen also operate ballistic missile warning and nuclear detection systems, help track wildfires from above and fly communications satellites, among other space-related missions.
The 2021 National Defense Authorization Act prohibited the Defense Department from establishing any reserve components of the Space Force until DoD submits a draft plan to the House and Senate Armed Services committees.
The Pentagon was still working on that report as of mid-April, a Pentagon spokesman told Military Times. Details of a Space Force Reserve and Guard are expected to be incorporated into the Pentagon’s 2022 budget request, which is expected to come out within the next two months.
Last year, the Congressional Budget Office projected the Space National Guard could include as many as 5,800 people, up from approximately 1,500 space personnel in the Army and Air National Guards now. A smaller Space National Guard could cost anywhere from $100 million to $490 million a year, and $20 million to $900 million in one-time construction and equipment costs.
CBO also anticipated that allowing for Space Force reservists would cost about $100 million each year, plus about $20 million in one-time construction costs.
Rachel Cohen joined Air Force Times as senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has appeared in Air Force Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy, the Frederick News-Post (Md.), the Washington Post, and others.