Space Force, Part 3: Top-Level Organization

A previous post looked at the missions of the forthcoming US Space Force. Once you see the missions and how they are handled today, it’s straightforward to figure out an organization for the new service. A service that, if they really want to do something great, could put a weasel in space. Why would the pigs have all the fun?

First off, many functions headed toward the Space Force are coming from the Air Force, so let’s look at how the Air Force is organized. Airmen are organized into squadrons, groups, and wings, and then assigned to a ‘numbered air force’ which is a headquarters led by a two-star or three-star general. Fourteenth Air Force runs much of the space missions, so let it become Fourteenth Space Force. This force will be in charge of space launch, surveillance of space, satellite communications, weather observation, and navigation via space. Since I included missile offense as a mission, Twentieth Air Force can become Twentieth Space Force and bring its three missile wings with it. Now we need some additional space forces to cover other missions. Let Twenty-Sixth Space Force be created to take charge of reconnaissance operations conducted today by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). The three Aerospace Data Facilities of the NRO and the National Reconnaissance Operations Center (NROC) would fall under this force. Finally, put missile warning forces and missile defense forces together under a new Twenty-Seventh Space Force. These forces would be assigned to Space Command, which is today known as Air Force Space Command. Space Command would conduct all operations for the Space Force.

All development activity would be performed by a Space Development Agency. With the missions in mind, we can look at what development organizations would transfer from the services and agencies into the SDA. First, the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) is today part of Air Force Space Command. SMC conducts development of systems for the Air Force. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is a DoD agency conducting research and development toward missile defense problems. It should be absorbed in its entirety into SDA. Under MDA can be placed the Technical Center of Army Space and Missile Defense Command. I discussed how NRO operating organizations would become part of Space Command. Development activities within NRO would instead become part of SDA. There are parts of the service laboratories and other organizations that might make sense to pull into the SDA as well. Examples include the Space Vehicles Directorate of Air Force Research Laboratory, the Naval Center for Space Technologies at Naval Research Laboratory, and some parts of Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), including the Space Field Activity.

There are some other functions required for a fully-capable Space Force, such as training and personnel management. This topic gets very detailed, so I think I will tackle it in a later blog post.

Also note, some space missions today are conducted with support from reserve units of the Air Force and Army, and possibly the Navy as well. In addition, some space missions are supported by units of the Army and Air National Guard. so a plan to develop a US Space Force is not complete without a plan for a Space Force Reserve, and for a Space National Guard in six or more states.

Here’s a summary of the US Space Force top-level organization

Space Command (all operations)
~ 14th Space Force (space launch, orbit surveillance, and control of satellites for communications, navigation, and weather)
~ 20th Space Force (missile offense/deterrence)
~ 26th Space Force (reconnaissance)
~ 27th Space Force (missile warning and missile defense)

Space Development Agency (all research, development, systems acquisition)
~ Space and Missile Systems Center
~ Missile Defense Development Center (former MDA plus SMDC Technical Center

~ Space Reconnaissance Development Center (former NRO development orgs)

~ Space Research Laboratory (USAF & USN Space Labs)


~ Space Education and Training Command

~ Space Force Reserve Command

~ Space National Guard

I will (in my obsessive way) provide more detail in a future blog post that looks at wing, group, and squadron organizations.