COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Change is coming to the Air Force's space enterprise, starting with the creation of a new three-star position on the Air Staff that will help enhance the visibility of space issues in the Pentagon.
Air Force Space Command head Gen. John Raymond announced the new deputy chief of staff for space position during a speech at the Space Symposium.
"Just like we have a deputy chief of staff for operations, and a deputy chief of staff for intel, we're going to have a deputy chief of staff for space," he said Tuesday. "He or she will work at the Pentagon, it will be a three-star general, and they'll come to work every day focused on this, making sure that we can organize, train and equip our forces to meet the challenges in this domain."
The service has yet to fill the newly minted "A11" position, but the Air Force hopes whoever takes the role will serve as its "space advocate," making sure the needs of operators are heard and helping to facilitate cultural change.
In a statement, Air Force Chief of Staff David Goldfein said the A11 "will increase decision making speed and help ensure freedom from attack and freedom to maneuver."
The A11 position is part of the Air Force's larger push to make the domain of space more normalized and easily understandable, with less bureaucracy, stovepipes and technical jargon. Although space is tied into every aspect of Air Force operations, from communications between fighter jets to flying unmanned aircraft, the service has sometimes struggled to articulate the importance of space capabilities and maintaining their technical edge. It hopes to start remedying that, releasing a new "space warfighting construct" today that calls for greater integration of space in areas such as training or requirements development.
In a news release, the service highlighted ways it plans to reform space acquisition, including steamlining the approval process for space programs and plans, and embedding professionals on the teams that create requirements for non-space programs. It also plans to "expand the use of the Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) organization to rapidly field systems, as well as procure existing commercial capabilities."
The addition of the A11 position wasn't the only change to the Defense Department's space enterprise announced on Tuesday. The unwieldly-named Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center (JICSpOC) will now be known as the National Space Defense Center, Strategic Command head Gen. John Hyten said earlier in the day.
The change will help "eliminate confusion" and "better describe its actual purpose," which is to unify the Defense Department's efforts in space with that of the intelligence community and National Reconnaissance Office, Hyten stated in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee. The center started its initial operations phase in November 2016.
Valerie Insinna was Defense News' air warfare reporter. Beforehand, she worked the Navy and congressional beats for Defense Daily, which followed almost three years as a staff writer for National Defense Magazine. Prior to that, she worked as an editorial assistant for the Tokyo Shimbun’s Washington bureau.