Washington, D.C. – As part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, HASC Strategic Forces Chairman Mike Rogers (AL) and Ranking Member Jim Cooper (TN) began a systematic effort to reform the Department of Defense national security space enterprise, starting with the United States Air Force. Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Cooper released the following joint statement:
“We are pleased the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 takes the first step in fundamentally changing and improving the national security space programs of the Department of Defense and the U.S. Air Force in particular.
After months of thorough oversight, it became clear that the Department of Defense, and the Air Force in particular, did not prioritize space capabilities even as threats increase, and were not structured in a way to ensure that we are able to deter, defend and if necessary fight and win in space. No single official could be held accountable for the success or failure of the space enterprise. Too many bureaucrats are empowered to say ‘no’ when it comes to defending our assets in space, and too few were empowered to say 'yes.'
At a time when Russia and China are developing new offensive capabilities designed to deafen and blind America in a future conflict, lack of accountability and leadership on space issues, as well as development and acquisition failures, undermine our national security and leave the country vulnerable. The Air Force will no longer be able to treat space as a third-order priority after fighter jets and bombers.
We have consolidated leadership and coordination between operations, acquisition and training, and eliminated the decentralized and ineffective structure that for too long hampered our space capabilities and readiness.
We have refashioned Air Force Space Command similar to the Air Corps Act of 1926 which established the Army Air Corps. We will work closely with the Deputy Secretary of Defense, who will be responsible for managing these changes, and we will closely oversee the Secretary of the Air Force to ensure her full compliance with the legislation.
This is just the first step. We will not allow the United States national security space enterprise to continue to drift towards a Space Pearl Harbor.”
Additional background on National Security Space Reforms in the FY18 NDAA:
- Air Force Space Command will now be the sole authority for organizing, training, and equipping all space forces within the Air Force, answerable only to the Secretary of the Air Force, who will answer to Congress.
- Eliminates the Defense Space Council;
- Eliminates the position of Deputy Chief of Staff for Space Operations, a hastily developed half-measure initiated by the Secretary of the Air Force, which at best only added a box on the organization chart.
- Reassigns responsibility for managing Major Force Program 12, the Department’s budget category for national security space, from the Secretary of the Air Force.
- To ensure the full and faithful execution of this reorganization, the NDAA also requires the DepSecDef to enter in a contract with a Federally-funded Research and Development Corporation, without affiliation with the U.S. Air Force, to provide Congress with a road map to establish a separate military department responsible for national security space activities of the DoD, which may be required as Congress evaluates how supportive the DoD about this reorganization.