Transcript

Space Force Briefing

Dec. 20, 2019
Hon. Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the U.S. Air Force; General John "Jay" Raymond, Commander, U.S. Space Command, and Commander, Air Force Space Command, and Commander, Joint Force Space Component; Stephen Kitay, Deputy Assistant Secretary Of Defense for Space Policy

SECRETARY BARBARA BARRETT: Good afternoon. Well, today is an historic moment for our nation as we launch the United States Space Force. The president's vision of a space force became a reality today, or will become a reality today, with the overwhelming bipartisan, bicameral support from Congress, a Congress that recognized the importance of space to today's, America's way of life.

 The U.S. Space Force will protect America's national interests by its singular focus on space. The United States has the best space acumen in the world. Still, now is the time to establish a team, a separate service totally focused on organizing, training and equipping Space Forces.

 We are moving forward with alacrity and in accordance with presidential direction, congressional legislation and DOD guidance. The Air Force Space Command airmen are today assigned to the U.S. Space Force. Personnel assigned to the initial Space Force headquarters located within the Pentagon will now take over the Space Force planning.

 Directing this effort with me is an incomparably-qualified leader, General "Jay" Raymond, who is the commander of U.S. Space Command. General Raymond is a career space officer. He's the perfect person to guide this lean, agile, vital Space Force.

 Before questions, I'd like to invite General Raymond to comment.

 GENERAL JOHN RAYMOND: Thank you, Madam Secretary. It's truly an honor and a privilege to serve by your side at this historic time. I thank you for your leadership, and I look forward to working closely with you as we establish the United States Space Force as an independent armed service focused on the space domain.

 I also want to thank the president, the vice president, the secretary of defense and Congress for their strong support. As a result of this support, America's leadership in space is resonating globally.

 With the establishment of the United States Space Force, we are elevating space commensurate with its importance to our national security and the security of our allies and our partners. In August of this year, we established the United States Space Command -- in fact, many of you were in this room when we did a similar event -- a warfighting command whose mission is to conduct space operations, to deter conflict from beginning or extending into space, to defend our vital interests in space, to deliver space capabilities to our joint and coalition partners and to develop space warfighters.

 Today, we elevate the complimentary organize, train, and equip function, the United States Space Force, to a separate service. U.S. Space Command will only be as strong as the capabilities it is provided by the United States Space Force.

 Let there be no mistake, the United States is the best in the world in space today and today, we're even better. Consistent with our National Defense Strategy, the United States Space Force will ensure we compete, deter and win from a position of strength, securing our way of life and our national security.

 I am honored to serve alongside our space professionals who are the source of our great strength. As we stand up this new service, I am committed to taking care of our space professionals and their families and will ensure the uninterrupted execution of ongoing critical space missions.

 Together, the Space Force and the Air Force will control the high ground and -- and deliver great advantage for our nation. Today's establishment of the Space Force truly launches us into a new era. Thank you again and I look forward to your questions. Madam Secretary, thank you.

 STAFF: Okay. Lita?

 Q: Hi, Lolita Baldor with the Associated Press.

 I was wondering if you could just sort of lay out for us how -- what this is going to look like over the next -- the coming month, two months, six months? What are you going to do first and how are you going to integrate the two, the Space Force and Space Command? Just some logistics, details on how you're going to unravel this as you -- as you move through the next year.

 MS. BARRETT: Well, first of all, it will begin with the signing of the NDAA this evening. And so as I understand, we're talking embargoed until after that, so we're -- we're going to speculate but -- that -- we're all assuming that that all takes place after the NDAA.

 And then we will have, at that point, a Space Force, a U.S. Space Force, and that will be comprised of about 16,000 Air Force active duty and civilian personnel. They will effectively be the Space Force immediately.

 There has been a planning team that has been building the phased construction of this force and the development of the force so that we have a -- a plan on the 60 day -- 30, 60 and 90 days and 120 day program that will incorporate additional staff into that force.

 And -- and that will all be under the leadership of General Raymond and -- or the -- because of the leadership of the U.S. Space Command today, he -- he has a great deal of the leadership in that and I'd invite your further comments.

 GEN. RAYMOND: I -- I would also just say maybe it would be helpful just to explain one more time the difference between U.S. Space Command and U.S. Space Force, 'cause there -- there has been some confusion and I think this might give some context for -- for the rest of the questions.

 Back in 1986, there was an -- a law called the Goldwater-Nichols Act and it split the department into two functions. One of the functions is an organize, train and equip function. That's what services do -- Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and today, after the president signs the NDAA, the Space Force.

 On the other side is the warfighting commands and that's -- the warfighting functions. And that's accomplished by warfighting commands like Central Command, European Command, INDOPACOM.

 In August of this year, it was U.S. Space Command. So they're complementary. One's organize, train and equip, one's warfighting and the United States is elevating both -- well, as of this evening, when the president signs the law -- the United States will have elevated both of those functions to the -- commensurate with just how important space is to our nation.

 Q: Just as a follow-up. But the -- what is the goal after 30 days? What is the -- I mean, are you -- do you start tomorrow with those 16,000? Are you building -- can you just give us a little more detail around what the -- what you're going to be doing over the next 30, 60 days?

 GEN. RAYMOND: So the -- so the first step -- first of all, we are going to get started tonight, when the law is signed. And so the law states that Air Force Space Command will be re-designated the United States Space Force. That will happen immediately upon the signature from the president of the United States, establishing that command. That's day one.

 There are 16,000 active duty airmen and civilians who are in that command that will be assigned to that -- to that -- assigned to the United States Space Force. There are, as you can imagine, thousands and thousands of actions that are going to have to take place, everything from what is the uniform look like to a logo, all the way up to who's in the Space Force and who's not in the Space Force.

 And that work has been planned and will continue to be refined and -- and laid out in the -- in a manner consistent with the prioritization of those tasks.

 Q: Can I just follow up on what Lita asked?

 Because you just explained very clearly, the difference between Space Command and Space Force. Why would you re-designate Space Command when it is really like CENTCOM or Cyber Command, to be Space Force, which is like Navy, Army, Air Force?

 GEN. RAYMOND (?): So it -- so there's -- there's a little bit of -- let me -- a little clarification. We did not re-designate U.S. Space Command, the U.S. Space Force. The United States Space Command is a combatant command today. It was established back in August. That stays as -- as-is. That command is solely focused on -- singularly focused on the warfighting aspects of space.

 There's an organize, train and equip piece. Today, Air Force Space Command is a major command in the United States Air Force. It reports to the secretary of the Air Force in that hat.

 What this law does is elevate that function from a major command inside the United States Air Force, to an independent service. And that's the -- the Space Command that we're talking about.

 STAFF: Theresa?

 Q: Thank you. Theresa Hitchens, Breaking Defense. Hello. 

 My question is about the space acquisition executive, and when you might see that happening. It's been mandated by Congress so it will happen, but I just wondered if you had a pool of people you were interviewing already, if you had a plan for that, if there was a time deadline.

 MS. BARRETT: Not working on a time deadline, but we do have a full list of people that have been recommended. We've sought insights from a variety of space experts and we'll be working from that and evaluating that and going through the -- you know, the processes in some -- in many cases, clearances were required, et cetera.

 So but we would anticipate that as something that would be in the -- in the next several phases.

 GEN. RAYMOND: And by doing so, this law provides great opportunity. And the opportunity here is to unite acquisition efforts from across the department towards a common architecture, and move out with speed. And that's why the position is so critical. This law provides -- will provide us great advantage.

 STAFF: Tony?

 Q: I've got a budget question. Tony Capaccio with Bloomberg.

 Will the Fiscal '21 budget plan -- will that have a FYDP for the Space Force?

 And for Mr. Kitay, what are some of the organizational missteps you need to avoid in setting up a Space Force so that the public, many of which are already skeptical about this as a Space Farce, will take it seriously? And the organizational goofs or one-offs you need to avoid as you set it up?

 DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE STEPHEN KITAY: So I'll take the second one first, the organizational missteps. One of the first aspects is educating Americans so they understand the role of space for our country. 

 As Secretary Barrett said, space is critical to our way of life, as well as our military. And we need people to understand that. And we've gotten to the point where, as a nation, space is so important to us that we need an armed force, a military service, that is designed to protect and defend our interests in this critical domain and continue to provide the critical capabilities to our country for space.

 So there's that aspect of education, that people understand what the United States Space Force is for and the importance of this domain.

 As far as the -- the budget question, can you repeat again what --

 Q: (inaudible) Future Years Defense Plan?

 MR. KITAY: So Space Force -- so I'll -- I'll start that, but then, certainly, if the secretary or General Raymond have anything to add -- we can't speak to the F.Y. '21 budget until it comes out, as you know. But --

 Q. I’m not asking for numbers, but will there be a FYDP?

 MR. KITAY: But I'm going to reserve to not speaking to the F.Y. '21 budget, but we are building that very closely right now, as the budget roll-out will be in February. And we will have a separate United States Space Force at that time. We're -- we're establishing it with the enactment of this act. That will be the birthday of the United States Space Force, is today.

 So -- so clearly, the budget will reflect having a United States Space Force.

 STAFF: Okay. Nancy?

 Q: Sorry if many of these are rudimentary questions, but I think it would really help us to have a sense of some sort of planning for -- I understand that, General, you'll be wearing two hats, for --

 GEN. RAYMOND: So I'm -- my -- I have two hats today.

 Q: Right.

 GEN. RAYMOND: And when you're bald, it's good to have a lot of hats.

 (Laughter.)

 But I have -- I have -- I'm the commander of United States Space Command. That's a warfighting combatant command. That -- that was established in August. I'm also the commander of Air Force Space Command, a major command in the United States Air Force. And that's -- that's my job today. So I'm dual-hatted today.

 When we elevate -- so this law says Air Force Space Command, which I command, is re-designated the United States Force. And -- and there's a decision to be made on who is going to be the chief of space operations as designated in law. And once the president makes a decision, then -- then there will be somebody that will -- will serve in that capacity as well.

 Q: I guess one of the reasons I'm confused -- you said Space Command would stand. So of those 16,000, how many of them will work in Space Command and Space Force?

 You talked about patches, uniforms, headquarters. Can you just give us a timeline of when you think those things will be established and when we can think of a Space Force as a fully functioning, independent service with its own headquarters, its own uniforms, its own -- those are the things we need help understanding, I think.

 GEN. RAYMOND: It's going to be really important that we get this right. A uniform, a patch, a song -- it gets to the culture of -- of a service. And so we're not going to be in a rush to -- to get something and not do that right. 

 There's a lot of work going on towards that end. I don't think it's going to take a long time to get that done, but we're not -- that's not something that we're going to roll out on day one. We want to make sure that we've captured that right. 
 To Tony's question -- and I know, Tony, you were just talking about what you've heard about a Space Farce. This is not a farce. This is nationally critical -- nationally critical. If you look at the National Defense Authorization Act and you look at the challenges that we face today -- and those challenges extend into the space domain -- this is really important for our nation. I cannot foot stomp that enough.

 And so I am very proud of the airmen, sailors, soldiers and Marines that I lead towards this effort. They come to work every day providing you the capabilities that fuel your American way of life and -- and our American way of war and it's critical that we protect those, so we want to get it right.

 Q: I appreciate that but we just need some sort -- is it months -- I mean, you -- you talk about --

 GEN. RAYMOND: I would say --

 Q: -- seriously. We just need some framework.

 GEN. RAYMOND: We're going to start today. It's -- it begins today when the President signs the law and then we have detailed plans that will continue to evolve that will be broken up into days, weeks, months and -- and maybe years ahead.

 It's going to take some time to grow this but we are moving out with due diligence to make sure that we -- we do it right.

 MS. BARRETT: And the law provides for planning up to 18 months and then in the year 2022, the budget, and so, a number of these things will be unfolding over that period of time.

 Of course, the President hasn't signed it yet and so we've been building a plan but -- but those things, like the cultural things, will be something that will be developed over time. The thoughts of -- input on that will be from the team of people who are participants in it and -- and we'll be looking for engagement in developing some of those things.

 But as of tonight, there will be a Space Force and that will be the re-designation of the U.S. Space Command.

 (CROSSTALK)

MS. BARRETT: Sorry, the Air Force Space Command.

 Q: Thank you. Sandra Erwin, SpaceNews.

 Madam Secretary, what plans do you have to bring in the armies and the -- the space units into the Space Force? Some people say that it would not be a real Space Force unless you have everyone from DOD that's involved in space.

 So I assume that you’ve had talks with your fellow secretaries --

 MS. BARRETT: Absolutely.

 Q: -- if you can comment on that. And General Raymond, do you have any plans to maybe rename some of the Air Force bases that are currently space-focused, like Schriever or Peterson? Maybe you'll rename them space base instead of Air Force base?

 MS. BARRETT: Naturally the Army and Navy will be partners in this and over time will be fully engaged in it. The Air Force -- we start with the Air Force, that's been the immediate purview of -- of this developing entity and there have been Army and Navy -- especially Army and Navy participants in the planning and in the development of the staged rollout that we have underway. So yes, very much.

 And allow me to express also that the -- that the Guard, that we will -- it'll be a total force engagement, that the Guard and Reserve are very interested in participation, they will be participants in --

 Q: Is that going to happen in '21 -- fiscal '21, maybe?

 MS. BARRETT: There's -- there -- the statute provides for a full engagement at that time but there will be significant engagements even before that. And Steve, you might have further to add.

 MR. KITAY: I would just add to Madam Speaker's remarks that the long term vision of the DOD is still to consolidate the preponderance of space missions across the services into the Space Force. As Madam Secretary said, year one focuses on the Air Force missions. However, as part of this initial headquarters staff, the plan is to have detailees from across the Joint Force be part of building that initial headquarters as we create this new, unique culture from across the Joint Force.

 (CROSSTALK)

 STAFF: Oh, I'm sorry, my apologies. Over to you.

 GEN. RAYMOND: We do have a plan to rename the -- the principal Air Force bases that -- that house space units to be space bases. That will occur in -- in the months ahead and we'll plan that appropriately.

 I just want to point out, though, that -- that we will rely very heavily on the Air Force to operate those bases. But we'll -- we'll work to rename those to match the mission of the base.

 Q: Thank you.

 STAFF: Now, Courtney.

 Q: What -- what are those bases?

 GEN. RAYMOND: So without, you know, an exclusive, but -- so Peterson Air Force Base, Buckley Air Force Base, Schriever Air Force Base, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Patrick Air Force Base and -- and there's other ones, as well. But that --

 Q: So they'll be called, like, Patrick Space Base now?

 GEN. RAYMOND: Could be. We'll work it out. Okay.

 So let me -- let me also say I -- I -- there's still a lot of things that we don't know. I mean, there's a lot of planning to go on, and so we're trying to be as transparent as we can, and we'll continue this engagement and keep you informed as we go, but that would be the expectation. But I – that’s the expectation.

 Q: Okay.

 STAFF: Okay, Courtney?

 Q: Oh, wait, wait. I didn't actually ask my question.

 STAFF: Oh, please, go ahead.

 Q: Actually, Sandra actually kind of asked it, but what -- and forgive me, because I probably should know this, but what is the ultimate size that Space Force is going to grow to?

 MS. BARRETT: No, that's -- that's like asking how big is space? I mean, it will be growing.

 Q: Like, right now, what is it authorized to grow to? And then -- and do you have any sense of how much of that will be Air Force versus other services yet?

 GEN. RAYMOND: So today when we start, we're going to start with 16,000 folks, and that made -- that's made up of the active-duty airmen and civilians from Air Force Space Command. They will be assigned to the United States Space Force. There'll be additional segments to come. So for example, there -- there might be other units that are outside of Air Force Space Command purview that would also -- would also come into this -- come into the service, as well. We want to build this service to be lean and agile. We're going to rely very heavily on its important functions from the Air Force, but there will be additional tranches that -- that will happen.

 There's really -- you can kind of think of it as there's three bins. And so if you think through the Space operators. In -- in the Air Force there's officer Space operators and there's enlisted Space operators. If you think of the Space operators, they're going to -- that's -- almost all will -- will move into the Space Force.

 Then there's a group that are doing support functions like security forces or civil engineering, and those largely will not move in because they are going to be provided by the United States Air Force. We want to keep this lean and focused on -- on space.

 Then there's a group kind of in the middle, and that's the -- the group that's like acquisition or engineering or intelligence. The -- the -- some of those career fields will come into the Space Force, and others won't. We have work to do on that to -- to identify that. We will work very closely with -- with our airmen when we -- when we go down that path.

 But I will tell you there is a -- an incredible excitement across our service about the Space Force, an incredible excitement, and there are people knocking on the door saying, "Hey, how do we become part of this?" And I will tell you, that's going to provide our nation huge advantage going forward.

 You know, back in the day when I was a little kid I sat on the floor and watched a man walk on the moon. Today, with this -- with this Space Force and with the earlier stand-up of U.S. Space Command and with NASA's moon-to-Mars, and with commercial industry the -- the very visible, innovative things, this is an exciting time to be in our business. And America's leadership in space in all those sectors is impacting and resonating across the globe.

 MS. BARRETT: One other thing on the -- on the quantity is that the Space Force won't be measured by the number of people unlike, for instance, the Marine Corps, which is really a labor-intensive service. Space Force is much more measured by the technology and the capabilities. So when you think about the -- the whole GPS system that the world depends upon so significantly, there are 40 operators run that whole, and 40 that cover all the shifts. So it's a -- it's a small -- it's a half-dozen, a little over a half-dozen people that are on staff at any one time that are managing the operations of the whole GPS system.

 So if -- that is just an example of how this is technology-intensive and personnel scant. And so it's a -- it's a different profile, it's a different sort of portfolio than what we might be thinking of when we generally think about warfighting regimes.

 STAFF: Okay.

 Q: Hi. It's Courtney Albon with Inside Defense. 

 It looks like appropriators are going to cut about 32 million from the Pentagon’s request for Space Force stand up. I know that you have to work with what Congress gives you, but can you talk about what efforts will be slowed down because of not having that funding? That's like almost half of what -- what you asked for, so.

 MS. BARRETT: However, we are a quarter of the way into the -- into the year, so -- and we're just at the startup. So we will phase development according to what the budget provides. So yes, it's less than what was requested, but we'll quite ably work with the amount that was appropriated.

 Q: So starting later means you don't need as much of an appropriation?

 MS. BARRETT: Not for the remainder of the year.

 STAFF: Okay, Travis?

 Q: Thank you. Travis Tritten, Bloomberg Government.

I have -- had a budget question too, F.Y. '21. I know other people have tried this. But if this year --

GEN. RAYMOND: Keep trying.

(Laughter.)

Q: If this year is the year of re-designating U.S. -- Air Force Space Command and setting up the headquarters here in the Pentagon, what do you see F.Y. '21 as being the year of? What will you focus on during that fiscal year?

And you've estimated you'll need about $2 billion over five years. Would that be frontloaded, do you believe, in F.Y. '21? Or do you expect that cost to be further on down the road?

GEN. RAYMOND: Let me just put it into perspective. I'm not going to speculate on what's in the -- you can -- nice try, but I'm not going to speculate on what's in the '21 budget. I will tell you, though, over the last several years, there has been significant increases in the space budget, significant increases, double-digit increases in the space budget.

The -- the United States understands the importance of space and are putting resources towards that. And that is going to -- so, again, as the -- as the -- the recognition of just how critical space is to national security, I think these increases in dollars were going to reflect that and will continue to reflect that.

 STAFF: Okay. Ladies and gentlemen, because we're running short on time, what we're going to do is in this session, we're going to take one more and we're going to go to Rachel.

 However, we've got some of our senior general officers and SESs that are intimately familiar with the work in this. Because of their schedule, they have to depart but we're going to bring them up because we know there's an appetite there to give you more detail and more information, and we'll do that after this last question.

 Q: Rachel Cohen with Air Force Magazine.

 Now that you don't necessarily have to play by Air Force organization rules, are you planning any significant reorgs to wings, squadrons, planning any new types of squadrons? What might this look like?

GEN. RAYMOND: I absolutely think we have an opportunity, that we're starting from -- we're starting from scratch and there's not a -- there's not a really good playbook on how do you stand up a separate service. We haven't done one of these since 1947, when the Air Force stood up.

So we have an opportunity. We're going to look at all -- and we are continuing. We've looked at, we'll continue to look at different organizational constructs to -- to build this force in a way that is consistent with what we need to operate successfully in the domain.

STAFF: Okay. Ladies and gentlemen, if you'll keep your seats, we'll transition and bring a panel up here in just a moment.

MS. BARRETT: Thank you very much. Thank you.