WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Defense on Monday submitted a plan to Congress on the initial structure of the Space Force, but many of the details of the service’s structure still need to be hammered out.

A big focus of the plan, which was signed by Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett on Feb. 3, is ensuring that the Space Force stands up with as little bureaucratic bloat and added cost as possible. For example, Space Force headquarters will be comprised of fewer than 800 billets, down from the initial estimate of about 1,000 positions, according to the plan, which was obtained by Defense News.

In terms of headquarters structure, the plan calls for the creation of the vice chief of space operations, who will support Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond by serving on the Joint Requirements Oversight Council and fulfilling other key roles. Barrett will recommend a general officer for the vice chief position, the plan states, but President Donald Trump must formally nominate the official for confirmation by the Senate.

The plan also lays out an initial Office of the Chief of Space Operations, which includes three directorates for human capital and logistics; operations, cyber and intelligence; and plans, programs, requirements and analysis.

Patricia Mulcahy, a member of the Senior Executive Service, has already been assigned as the director for human capital and logistics. Meanwhile, Barrett is actively seeking two three-star generals who would be nominated to lead the other directorates, according to Lt. Gen. David Thompson, vice commander of the Space Force, who briefed reporters on the plan on Feb. 5.

“You can anticipate probably in the near term we might start [seeing those nominations],” Thompson said.

However, the plan leaves much to be determined, including a final organizational design.

“The [Office of the CSO] has already presented initial headquarters design options to the CSO, and he downselected to a focused range of options, including agile and lean structures and innovative organizational models,” the plan states. “The SECAF and CSO are projected to make a final decision on end-state Space Force organizational design by May 1, 2020.”

A separate report, coming March 19, on the Space Force Total Force Management Plan will detail how the service intends to incorporate National Guard and Reserve components.

The Space Alternative Acquisition Report, due March 31, will delve into how best to streamline the acquisition functions currently performed by the Space and Missile Systems Center, Space Development Agency, Space Rapid Capabilities Office, and other organizations responsible for procuring space technology.

The Space Acquisition Council, which will hold its first meeting in late February, will also help delineate the future roles and responsibilities of those organizations.

Other Space Force moves

To help inform the decisions about the wider structure of the Space Force — including how to organize space units — the service held an exercise in January, during which about 100 space professionals evaluated design concepts.

“This establishment of the Space Force offers an historic opportunity to take a fresh look at how DoD is organized for, and conducts space operations in a distinct warfighting domain,” the plan states. “Fielded space forces will be realigned around a new set of mission competencies and mission areas such as space electronic warfare, orbital warfare, space battle management, and space access and sustainment.”

The exercise led to the establishment of a Space Training and Readiness Command, which will be responsible for “growing a cadre of space warfighting professionals” and generating space-centric doctrine and training.

The Pentagon also intends to establish several Space Force centers, similar to organizations like the Naval Surface Warfare Center or Air Force Doctrine Center. Those centers might oversee space-specific war gaming, intelligence, training, and test and evaluation. The plan states that some initial funding for manpower necessary to stand up these new centers will be requested in the fiscal 2021 budget.

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.

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