Pentagon officials are finalizing recommendations to establish a separate Space National Guard, the nation’s top National Guard officer told lawmakers, potentially setting up a new cadre of part-time space professionals for the military.
Gen. Daniel Hokanson, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, on Tuesday called establishing a Space National Guard “among my most pressing concerns.”
“I believe we’re fairly close on that,” Hokanson said during a hearing of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.
Hokanson told members that the Space Force’s top officer, Gen. Jay Raymond, and acting Air Force Secretary John Roth support “a two component construct” of an active-duty and Reserve Space Force along with a Space National Guard. The trio, he testified, have met with Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks and are set to speak again Wednesday ahead of a briefing with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on the plan.
Setting up a Guard component of the Space Force, a move supported by lawmakers from space-heavy states such as Colorado, would be the latest shakeup following the creation of the Space Force, which itself marked the first time a new military service had been formed since the end of World War II.
The top Republican on the subcommittee, Rep. Ken Calvert of California, who asked Hokanson about the proposal, said he supports standing up a Guard component “especially for states that have existing significant space missions” such as his home state.
In his written testimony, Hokanson called the National Guard “a trusted space and cyber partner,” citing two burgeoning domains of warfare. He said the Guard supplies the Space Force with 11 percent of its professionals.
Hokanson’s predecessor at the Guard Bureau, Gen. Joseph Lengyel, similarly called for the creation of a Space Guard.
But some lawmakers have been skeptical of the added costs and bureaucracy imposed by Space Force.
Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) who chairs the House Defense Appropriations panel, told the Guard Bureau chief she had questions about the cost of the pending proposal.
“I’m looking forward to a breakdown on how much this is going to cost to set up a Reserve and a Guard Space Force, as you’re referring to,” McCollum told Hokanson. “What would it look like in all 50 states and if it’s kind of a hybrid where you’re using facilities that are already in existence with the Air Force.”
Defense legislation enacted early this year bars the establishment of either a Space National Guard or a Space Reserve component of the Space Force until the Pentagon completes and submits a plan for the move to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees.