The U.S. Army plans to transfer 100 soldiers into the U.S. Space Force beginning in 2021, according to service officials and budget documents.
The soldiers will already have space-related training and jobs — military occupational specialties, in Army parlance — Maj. Gen. Paul Chamberlain, deputy assistant Army secretary for budget, told reporters on Tuesday.
It’s the first time any service outside of the Air Force has identified members that will transfer into the Space Force, the new branch of the military within the Air Force created in December. The Navy has yet to say how many of its sailors it plans to transfer. The Air Force plans to shift some 6,000 airmen into the Space Force by year’s end and more in the years that follow.
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Right now, Gen. Jay Raymond, the chief of space operations, is the only member of the Space Force. Still, there are 16,000 Air Force servicemembers and civilians assigned to the Space Force.
“The intent is to consolidate the space forces within each of the armed forces into the U.S. Space Force,” Stephen Kitay, deputy assistant secretary of defense for space policy, said during a Feb. 6 briefing.
But just having the word “space” in your title doesn’t necessarily mean a transfer into the new military branch.
“There will be aspects of that that will remain in each of the services but global space operations that are really provided more globally the plan is to transfer them to the Space Force over time,” Kitay said.
There are 24 Army and 14 Navy members on the team that is creating the Space Force headquarters at the Pentagon, Air Force Maj. Gen. Clint Crosier, director of the U.S. Space Force Planning Office, said on Feb. 6.
“It was important to us that this isn’t just an Air Force organization,” Crosier said. From the very early stages of our planning we planned, coordinated, collaborated with the Army and the Navy that as we stand up this thing, it looks like a joint headquarters.”
Transferring people to the Space Force is one thing, but space efforts is another. The Army is still pursuing a low-Earth orbit satellite effort.
“All of the satellite efforts are coordinated amongst all the interagencies,” Chamberlain said. “So it is a coordinated effort. Those [low-Earth orbit] satellites are specific to the Army and it is part of that development program right now. It is still an Army program.”