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‘Space Force’ To Create Countless Bureaucratic Fist Fights
This week President Trump signed Space Policy Directive-4 that orders the Pentagon to begin the process of establishing a “Space Force” as the sixth branch of the armed forces.
Sean O’Keefe is a University Professor at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, and former Administrator of NASA. The graduate courses he leads include national security policy and technology management.
“This directive won’t save the organizational expense of this separation and will create countless bureaucratic fist fights over what goes into which part of this new Department of the Air Force enterprise. Moreover, the operational chain of command will remain unaffected by this structure. Separately, the Defense Department is recreating the U.S. Space Command which will place all of the operational assets of the military services under another four star general.
“In the end, this is a lot of organizational box shuffling to give the president an opportunity to sign a directive which still must be officially created by the Congress. That branch of government will surely have its own ideas of what goes into the new military service.
“This solution is still searching for a problem – and along the way, creating new problems to be adjudicated.
“This an organizational compromise that creates ‘Space Force’ as a subcomponent of the Air Force much like the Marine Corps structure within the Department of the Navy. This avoids the necessity to establish a new civilian leadership chain to the Secretary of Defense since the Secretary of the Air Force is a direct report and already has a support structure of Assistant Secretaries, General Counsel, etc.
“But beneath that level will be a new military four star General as Chief of Staff for Space Force who will be a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and all the associated military support structure that will mirror what you see in the Department of Defense today for each military service – the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, the National Guard Bureau and now Space Force.
“The upside is that the civilian chain of the command isn’t any more complicated than it already is. But 95 percent of the overhead cost is wrapped up in all the process units to be built around the typical functional stove pipes for budget, programs, personnel, contracts, and the very complex acquisition support. The Marine Corps is comparatively lean and much smaller than the Army, Navy or Air Force – but all these organizations dedicated to Marine Corps matters are under the Department of the Navy which has a parallel collection of units that support Navy matters. The Secretary of the Navy is at the top of this dual set of stove pipe organizations, the same way the Secretary of the Air Force will have two different military services reporting in to ‘recruit, train and equip . . .’ – the standard responsibility of all of the military departments.”
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