WASHINGTON — The Space Force is setting up a “space doctrine center” where the brand-new American armed service can begin to hammer out how to optimally operate in space, the head of Space Operations Command said Friday.
The Space Force was formally established on Dec. 20 as an independent military branch inside the Department of the Air Force. But much still needs to be done to get the fledgling service up on its feet, including laying out its organizational structure, creating a logo, potentially changing the name of bases and transferring airmen over to the Space Force.
Both the Air Force and Space Force have been working to fulfill these tasks, said Maj. Gen. John Shaw, who leads Space Operations Command and holds the title of U.S. Space Command’s combined force space component commander. Space Operations Command was formerly known as 14th Air Force up until the creation of the Space Force.
“We have been authorized some billets for a space doctrine center, and we’ll be holding a space doctrine conference in Colorado Springs next month,” Shaw said at a Jan. 10 breakfast event. “So I think we’re already thinking about how do we think about this anew.”
In December, just hours before President Donald Trump signed off on legislation that would codify the Space Force into law, Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett told reporters that her service had identified an initial planning cadre that would hammer out many of the major details needed to stand up the Space Force.
That plan includes 30-, 60- and 90-day goals, and Barrett herself is responsible for meeting one major, near-term deadline by Feb. 1, when a proposal for the initial structure of the Space Force is due to Congress.
Much of that work is ongoing, Shaw said.
“What we’re doing right now — even as we speak there are folks meeting in Colorado Springs trying to lay this all out — is figuring out how do we set up a United States Space Force,” Shaw said. “I’ve been telling the team: ‘Don’t even think about a war-fighting service for the next decade or even the century. Create a war-fighting service for the 22nd century.’ What is war fighting going to look [like] at the end of the century and into the next? We started with that.
“I’m sure we didn’t get it 100 percent right. We didn’t have the time infinity stone that we could just jump into the future and come back,” he said, referencing a jewel carried by Marvel superhero Doctor Strange that allows the wielder to manipulate time. “But our general feeling is it’s going to be fast. War fighting is going to happen very quickly.”
That principle should inform how the Space Force is organized, resulting in a lean, agile service that can quickly respond to threats, he said.
Shaw also spoke about the opportunity to recruit young people who might be interested in space technology, but would otherwise not consider a career in the military. About a year ago, Shaw went to dinner with three “nerdy” aerospace engineering students from the University of Colorado Boulder.
“All three of them said this: ‘I would never join the military. But I would join the Space Force,’ ” he said. “If you extrapolate that out, there’s something going on. There’s an excitement about space that I feel we can tap into.”
Valerie Insinna is Defense News' air warfare reporter. She previously worked the Navy/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.