WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force has reorganized how it handles space, creating a three-star billet as deputy chief of staff for space operations.

The new directorate, which represents the firsts major organizational move by Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, will be known as A-11 and will stand up sometime in August. It was not immediately clear who would become the first general to fill that spot.

"This is the next step in our effort to integrate, normalize and elevate space operations in the Air Force," Wilson said in a service statement. "The United States is dependent on space, and our adversaries know it.  We must organize and train forces to be able to prevail in any future conflict which could extend into space."

Brian Weeden, a former U.S. Air Force officer who is now a technical adviser for the Secure World Foundation, said the move seems like a smart one if executed correctly.

"I think the intent, which is to create an advocate for space on the air staff and a lead to focus on how to normalize space as a warfighting domain is correct," Weeden said. "But the challenge is how this new position will interact with all the other existing leaders and authorities within the Air Force and across the national security space community."

Wilson also announced that on June 9, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work reaffirmed the U.S. Air Force secretary will continue to be the principal adviser to the secretary of defense on space over the next year. The Air Force secretary was first given that responsibility in Oct. 2015

"I will ensure major issues are addressed, ops & acquisition is streamlined & every service is heard when it comes to #space," Wilson tweeted from her official account.

Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.

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