Frank Kendall, former Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics and executive in residence at Renaissance Strategic Advisors, discusses some of the logistical issues with the current Space Force plan, and what questions still need to be answered.
After Vice President Mike Pence’s announcement last Thursday, the Space Force idea is flying high. However, management issues might bring it crashing down. The biggest challenge to the Space Force could be the numerous back-office changes needed to support a sixth branch. Frank Kendall, former Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics and executive in residence at Renaissance Strategic Advisors, said that as of right now, the acquisition apparatus of the proposed force is unclear and ill-defined. “[The report] talks about a new Space Development Agency, which seems to be an experimental agency. It talks about some programs remaining at least temporarily, under the Air Force. It isn’t clear where that new agency would report. A logical place would be the Under Secretary for Research and Engineering, but that’s not the only option,” Kendall said. “It also does not address the acquisition activities of the intelligence community, the National Reconnaissance Office in particular. It’s cooperation with that office is mentioned in the report. But a lot of our acquisition in space is done by the NRO. The air force has a limited set of capabilities it provides as well as the launch capabilities for space… There are a number of questions related to the management of the all those things that need to be addressed.”