April 6, 2017 – The U.S. Air Force announced five major organization and management changes to its space enterprise April 4, 2017.
“For decades, the men and women of our Air Force delivered effects from space to give our joint warfighting forces in the field a distinct advantage over their adversaries,” said acting Secretary of the Air Force Lisa S. Disbrow. “The Air Force has been researching, experimenting, and implementing plans for several years to evolve our space systems to both protect our interests in space and be more resilient in the face of potential threats. The time has come to adapt our organization and management structure to reflect the reality that space is a joint warfighting domain.”
As part of the Air Force’s initiative to normalize space, the service is taking steps to streamline the acquisition process, enhance responsiveness to threats in space, strengthen requirements, and bolster the space concept of operations (CONOPS).
“A new three-star deputy chief of staff for space, known as the ‘A-11,’ will be established as the Air Force’s headquarters space advocate, which will increase decision making speed and help ensure freedom from attack and freedom to maneuver,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein. “We are making changes now to ensure we can organize, train, and equip our space forces to have the skills necessary to operate in a contested environment, defend our systems, and assure space missions and space superiority.”
This new organization will be instrumental in fostering, at the Air Force Headquarters level, the cultural change and capabilities evolution required to operate in an increasingly contested space domain.
Additionally, the Air Force is reforming the space acquisition programs approval process through the implementation of the new acquisition Milestone Decision Authority provisions in the fiscal year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, streamlining decision making and removing months of time from the approval process.
The service will take full advantage of the authorities at its disposal, and consider alternative acquisition approaches. For example, the Air Force will expand the use of the Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) organization to rapidly field systems, as well as procure existing commercial capabilities.
In support of these initiatives, Air Force Space Command has developed a Space Warfighting Construct (SWC), which is an integrated approach to evolve the space architecture to be more flexible, survivable, and resilient. It will guide the development of future space systems and change the way the Air Force employs current systems. As part of the SWC, AFSPC is developing the space operations CONOPS, which will inform requirements development.
In order to strengthen the linkage of space capabilities to joint warfighters, the Air Force, in collaboration with the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and its sister services, is strengthening the existing requirements process to embed space professionals at every stage of decision making. Together these efforts will position the Air Force to deliver ready space capabilities to all combatant commanders to ensure continuous delivery of space effects in a contested environment.
“Space capabilities provide the nation with effects integrated into the Air Force’s mission of Global Vigilance, Global Reach and Global Power. The enormous advantages space capabilities provide to theater commanders in today’s fight has led potential adversaries to either replicate or try to negate U.S. space systems,” Disbrow said. “The Air Force seeks to deter conflict in space, but should deterrence fail, we will counter any attempt to deny freedom of action in this vital warfighting domain.”