WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of senators is calling for the creation of a Space National Guard, reinvigorating a years-long effort to place Air National Guard members working for the U.S. Space Force directly under the command of the new space force branch. ‘army.
Meaning. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., introduced the Space National Guard Establishment Act Wednesday to correct a misalignment that has about 1,000 National Guard members working on space missions within the Air Force rather than the Space Force. Guard troops are divided into 16 Air National Guard units stationed in eight states and territories.
“Without a National Guard component for the Space Force, we risk losing many talented individuals who wish to continue serving their country and their states after leaving active duty, and that is simply unacceptable,” Feinstein said. . “Creating a Space Force National Guard would also save money and ensure a smoother process in case we need to activate personnel.”
The legislation matches a House bill introduced last year and follows a Space Force request to integrate its active duty and reserve personnel into a single command structure.
“This is our No. 1 legislative proposal,” Gen. John Raymond, the Space Force’s chief of space operations, told the House Armed Services Committee last month.
Raymond said the Space Force has explored several options for integration, including creating a Space National Guard or removing the Air National Guard from service altogether. When the Space Force was created in 2019, active duty Air Force troops were transferred to the new branch, but there was no such transfer for the Air National Guard.
“Not establishing a Space National Guard was a mistake when the Space Force was created, and this bill will fix that,” Feinstein said.
The senator lobbied to establish the new force through the National Defense Authorization Act of 2022, which allocates funds to the Pentagon, but was unsuccessful. A plan drawn up by the Air Force, Space Force, and National Guard Bureau to create a Space National Guard has yet to come to fruition.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated in 2020 that the Pentagon would spend $100 million to operate a small National Space Guard with about 1,500 personnel, as well as $20 million to build additional facilities. A larger force of 4,900 to 5,800 personnel would cost at least $385 million a year, the agency said.
The senators said they were not looking to expand the force. Rubio said he believes the proposed legislation will strengthen military readiness, increase efficiency and ensure talent retention.
Other co-sponsors of the bill include Sens. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Michael Bennett, D-Colo., Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Joe Manchin, DW.Va., Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Rick Scott, R -Fla., Alex Padilla, D-Calif., Mike Braun, R-Ind., and John Cornyn, R-Texas.
If the legislation becomes law, the need to route funding between the Air Force and Space Force would be eliminated, the senators said. The Space Force would also be able to better implement its policies and culture, they added.
The U.S. National Guard Association, a congressional lobbying organization, on Thursday applauded the proposed bill.
“A national space guard is the only effective and inexpensive way to enhance our space force,” the retired brigadier said. Gen. J. Roy Robison, chairman of the group. “It doesn’t require any new personnel, equipment or facilities – just new uniforms and some new signs.”
Brig. Gen. Steven Butow, commander of the California Air National Guard, told members of Congress during a briefing this month that the effort would cost about $250,000.
The Space Force is made up of nearly 14,000 Guardians stationed around the world, according to Raymond. They are responsible for maintaining and protecting military satellites, monitoring space surveillance systems, and performing other space-related missions.
According to the National Guard Association, members of the Air National Guard working for the Space Force provide 60% of the Army’s space electronic warfare capability. Their units are based in Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, New York, Ohio and Guam.