In a bipartisan act, Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Marco Rubio (R-Florida) have introduced legislation to create a space National Guard. If passed, the measure would bring Air National Guard members working for U.S. Space Force directly under its command.
Currently, approximately 1,000 National Guard members are working on Space Force related missions, across 16 units in eight different states. But they are doing so under the aegis of the Air Force, not the newly-created Space Force. The proposed legislation would bring those soldiers into the Space Force command structure. Chief of space operations for Space Force, General John Raymond, told the House Armed Services committee in April that forming the Space National Guard is “our number-one legislative proposal.”
Space Force was created in 2019 by the Trump Administration, the first new military branch formed in 73 years. When it was first structured, active-duty Air Force service members were transferred into the Space Force command structure. However, no such transfer was created for Air Force National Guard service members assigned to Space Force missions. This creates the potential for inefficiency and confusion, which the proposed legislation aims to remedy. Senator Rubio, one of the bill’s sponsors, believes that consolidating the two service branches will increase military readiness, increase efficiency, ensure retention, and ultimately save taxpayer money.
“Creating a Space Force National Guard would also save money and ensure a smoother process in the event we need to activate personnel. Not establishing a Space National Guard was a mistake when Space Force was created, and this bill will remedy that,” said Senator Feinstein in a statement.
Until now, the Space Force, Air Force, and National Guard Bureau have been working on a solution but have so far not come up with a plan to establish a Space National Guard. Senator Feinstein attempted to form the Space National Guard in the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, but was unsuccessful. A similar bill sponsored by Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO) has already been passed by the House.
Currently, Space Force is tasked with maintaining and protecting military satellites, monitoring surveillance systems in space, and performing any other space-related missions. It’s comprised of approximately 14,000 service members, stationed worldwide. Around 60% of Space Force’s electronic warfare capability is provided by the Air National Guard.
The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Rob Portman (R-OH), Rick Scott (R-FL), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Mike Braun (R-IN), and John Cornyn (R-TX).
The National guard Association of the United States also supports the bill. Brigadier General Steve Butow, commander for the California National guard, estimates the cost of the bill to be no more than $250,000. President Joe Biden has proposed a $24.5 billion budget for all of Space Force for 2023.