The National Guard is continuing to push for a new component focused on space as the military continues to entrench its newest military branch focused on the domain.
There has been much debate over whether there should be a Space National Guard to pair with the Space Force. Concerns over funding and the need for space operations for state use have dominated most of the conversation.
The newest selling point to set up the component is that the initial cost would only be about a quarter of a million dollars, according to Col. Adam Rogge, commander of the 233rd Space Group of the Colorado Air National Guard. The price tag amounts to a teardrop in the ocean of the Defense budget.
“Air National Guard space forces are an untenable posture and the Air National Guard are misaligned to and dependent on the Air Force service no longer performing space missions,” Rogge said during a Friday roundtable with reporters. “This misalignment has resulted in increased bureaucracies, severed standards and training, lack of unified planning control and will ultimately degrade readiness at a time when our nation is looking to increase space capabilities. Simply put, this is not sustainable.”
Rogge said the needed funds would go toward things like uniforms. Rogge added that there would be no growth upon establishment.
Many have wondered if states really need space capacities, however.
Kaitlyn Johnson, deputy director of the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, tweeted in May that she thinks the component is a bad idea.
“Why would a governor ever need satellite operators to support their state/local issues? The argument that people are already doing this is not a good one — sounds like a realignment issue and not a ‘Let’s just create another bureaucratic org,’” she wrote. “What happened to the Space Force being new/revolutionary/unique? What happened to redefining how we support the space mission? Seems to me like Sens. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) are forcing the opposite values that the USSF was established on to get more money for their states.”
Rogge said space capabilities can be beneficial to governors.
“A governor has to think about domestic operations in response to a natural need for specific satellite capable imagery to provide some element of command and control over her or his state to respond to that natural disaster,” he said. “The first and best option would be from their National Guard. The Guard provides that governor that pinnacle capability to exploit space services for the governor-specific needs that the federal government does not provide.”
Currently, the Air National Guard has 14 units across seven states. Rogge mentioned that other governors might want those capabilities in the future. That could lead to increased demand and increased costs in the future if Congress decides it’s necessary.
The Space Force itself isn’t so sure it wants a traditional Guard component. Service officials floated the idea of a “space component” in April during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, which would be a hybrid structure merging full- and part-time guardians.
Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond described it as the service’s number one legislative priority.
“You could keep the Guard units in the Air National Guard and have the Air National Guard continue to provide support,” Raymond said. “Option two is you could take the men and women out of the Air National Guard and set up a separate Space National Guard. Or you can take those capabilities out of the Guard totally and put them in this one component.”