Ryan supports space commander split

Report of the Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Management and Organization

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Gen. Michael Ryan, Air Force chief of staff, said Thursday that he supports a recent space commission report, and he is working to implement within 90 days the recommendations that do not require Pentagon approval or Congressional action.

Congress established a high-level space commission to assess U.S. space management issues. The commission's report in mid-January recommended separating the Air Force Space Command chief from also being the head of U.S. Space Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

That means the Air Force would relinquish control of the position of unified space command chief, and the other services would get a shot at the top uniformed space slot.

"I support that recommendation," Ryan said during an Air Force Association conference in Orlando, Fla. "I think if we can at all possibly do it, we should unburden the unified [commander in chief] from having also be a service component to himself."

The commission also recommended shifting funding from the Space and Missile Systems Center from the purview of the Air Force Materiel Command to that of the Air Force Space Command to better prepare the service to "train and equip space forces," the commission's executive summary stated.

"The commander [of the Air Force Space Command] would have authority to program funds and direct research and development programs within the Air Force laboratory system" for space-related research, the report stated, which would create "a strong center of advocacy for space."

The report fell short of recommending a space force separate from the Air Force, stating that for now, a space corps within the Air Force is most appropriate but that a space force might be necessary in the long term.

Ryan agreed the day may come when the military needs a separate space force but concluded, "I cannot think we need to go there yet."

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