House lawmakers are criticizing the Space Force for being too vague about its future personnel plans as the new service turns six months old.
Congress approved the creation of a Space Force last year, and is now taking a piecemeal approach to cleaning up the details as the service begins to mature.
“The committee commends the Department of Defense for the establishment of the Space Force within the Department of the Air Force,” House Armed Services personnel subcommittee members wrote in their version of the fiscal 2021 defense policy bill. “However, the current planning seems to lack some specificity and details that may be needed to help ensure the timely and successful execution of the force structure plan for the Space Force.”
So far, the only people allowed to become part of the Space Force are certain Active-duty Air Force members in fields like satellite operations, intelligence, and acquisition. The service plans to let in a limited number of Army and Navy personnel in 2021, then open it more broadly to the armed forces in 2022.
By February 2021, the House and Senate Armed Services Committees want to see details about who is allowed to join the Space Force and what roles they would play. They want the Defense Secretary to submit a report on multiple personnel issues:
- The number of personnel, plus their ranks and specialties, of voluntary transfers that will join the Space Force from the Army, Navy, and Air Force;
- New civilian personnel authorities and hiring initiatives needed for more flexibility and higher retention rates;
- New changes to, or waivers for, the physical and medical standards for appointment, enlistment, or induction into the Space Force;
- An action plan with milestones for building out the service’s force structure, allocating resources, and transferring personnel.
Space Force officials already have two manpower-related reports due to Capitol Hill: one on military and civilian personnel quality that was due June 17, and another on medical and physical requirements that was due June 20. A service spokeswoman said June 22 the quality report has not been submitted but did not provide a status update on the other.
Senate staffers noted that the Space Force was too slow to submit other documents that could have helped shape 2021 legislation, but there might be a chance to add more language later.
The personnel panel authorized a minimum of 6,434 Space Force billets in 2021, which will transfer from other services instead of adding thousands of new people to the Pentagon’s overall workforce. The Space Force is choosing Airmen from more than 8,500 applicants it received in its first transfer window to fill those billets.