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Former Secretary of the U.S. Air Force Deborah Lee James discusses what the re-established U.S. Space Command means for the future of space within the Pentagon, and how it and […]

Former Secretary of the U.S. Air Force Deborah Lee James discusses what the re-established U.S. Space Command means for the future of space within the Pentagon, and how it and a Space Force are “not mutually exclusive.”


The U.S. Space Command was re-established on Tuesday. Vice President Mike Pence said during the announcement that the command will eventually support 18,000 personnel from across the military. Politico reports that the new combatant command is a stepping stone to the president’s goal of a dedicated Space Force. Deborah Lee James, former Secretary of the U.S. Air Force, says that there’s nothing about the establishment that directly links to President Trump’s ambitions, but more developments could come later.   “We don’t know how that will play out fully… We talked about a warfighting command yesterday. Will we go beyond that and set up some other contract to organize, train and equip as the military service does? I will tell you that’s all still very much in play. President Trump wants it, there will be a legislative proposal of some sort,” James said. “What I’m hearing is the most likely outcome will be a proposal to stand up or to reshuffle the deck to create a Marine Corps like structure under the Air Force. But the fact remains, Congress is not sold on any of this and it could be that the new Space Command would live on and there would be no Space Force. None of these things are mutually exclusive.”   James told Government Matters that the new Space Command could achieve initial operating capability soon, but full capability will take much longer.   “To get to an initial operating capability, that can be quick. You’ve designated people, you have the commander, you have the basic documents that describe the authorities. If there’s any congressional approvals required, you would presumably have already succeeded in gaining those. Put all that together and you can typically establish initial operating capability… Within a year that could be declared,” James said. “Full operational capability, however, takes much longer. Several years at a minimum. Again, the question is what will be happening that is all that different from what’s happening today? We’re already trying to figure out tactics, techniques and procedures.”

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