DOD releases 4-part plan for Space Force


Vice President Mike Pence detailed the Defense Department’s plans – outlined in a 15-page report to Congress -- to stand up a presidentially mandated Space Force during at an Aug. 9 Pentagon media briefing.

Pence said the force “will not be built from scratch,” but will tap existing space program personnel. The sixth branch of the military will have a few new components, however.

The Space Force will include a new full-combatant command dubbed the U.S. Space Command, which will focus on warfighting, doctrines, tactics, techniques and procedures, as well as a Space Operations Force staffed with space-warfighting experts from across the military that will support the other commands.

A Space Development Agency will be charged with developing and fielding new capabilities, and a single civilian authority -- the assistant secretary of defense for space – who will oversee the branch and report on the force's growth and expansion to the Defense secretary.

The DOD report also details several priorities that emphasize operating with “unfettered access” in space, supplying joint support to combatant commands, quickly developing and scaling capabilities and consolidating existing authorities for DOD space activities to eliminate inefficiencies.

The ambitious plan is capped with a White House promise to establish the U.S. Department of the Space Force by 2020, Pence said. A legislative proposal with necessary authorities for the space branch will be filed with the 2020 National Defense Authorization bill, according to DOD’s report to Congress.

“Ultimately, Congress must act to establish this new department, which will organize, train, and equip the United States Space Force,” Pence said. “Our administration is already working with leaders in Congress to do just that.”

The vice president also said the White House was working on establishing bipartisan support.

“We have been warning for years of the need to protect our space assets and to develop more capable space systems,” the House Armed Services Committee's Strategic Forces Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) and Ranking Member Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) said in a joint statement. "We are glad that the Pentagon is finally taking these steps in enhancing our space strength."

Members of Congress also said DOD’s report would help accelerate advanced system acquisitions and increase visibility and “clout” for current space professionals.

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is senior editor for FCW and Defense Systems, covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


  • Government Innovation Awards
    Government Innovation Awards -

    Congratulations to the 2021 Rising Stars

    These early-career leaders already are having an outsized impact on government IT.

  • Acquisition
    Shutterstock ID 169474442 By Maxx-Studio

    The growing importance of GWACs

    One of the government's most popular methods for buying emerging technologies and critical IT services faces significant challenges in an ever-changing marketplace

Stay Connected