Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., and Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., reintroduced legislation last week that would create a Space National Guard under the Space Force.
If passed, the Space National Guard Establishment Act (H.R. 3048) would move the roughly 1,000 space professionals in 16 Air Guard units across eight states and territories to the new component.
The Guard's space personnel currently provide 60% of the U.S. military’s space electronic warfare capability, the only mobile, survivable missile-warning capability and 100% of the surge capacity.
But now that all of the Air Force's other space units have migrated to the Space Force, Air Guard space professionals are "orphaned" in a service no longer conducting space missions.
According to Crow, this status makes acquiring needed resources and professional development for the Guard's space professionals more complicated.
"Establishing a Space National Guard would improve communication, better support personnel, and maintain our critical defense capabilities," Crow said in a May 2 press release.
"I am encouraged to see more momentum and support from national defense leaders this year as we restart this conversation," Lamborn added. "Our bipartisan, economical and sensible proposal for the creation of a Space National Guard is in the best interest of our national security.”
Guard space units are in Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, New York, Ohio and Guam.
Crow and Lamborn's House legislation is co-sponsored by Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Mich., Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Calif., Rep. Ed Case, D-Hawaii, Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, Rep. William Keating, D-Mass., Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Fla., Rep. Brittany Pettersen, D-Colo., Rep. John Rutherford, R-Fla., Rep. Jill Tokuda, D-Hawaii, and Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark.
The group's bill follows a similar Senate measure (S. 503) introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Marco Rubio, R- Fla.
Lawmakers considered legislation for creating a Space Guard in the 117th Congress; it passed the House but never received a Senate vote.
Last week, NGAUS applauded the measure for starting a Space Guard reintroduced in the 118th Congress.
"It’s heartening to see that a broad coalition in both the House and Senate share our determination to establish a Space National Guard," said retired Brig. Gen. J. Roy Robinson, the association's president.
"A Space National Guard is the only efficient, inexpensive way to enhance our Space Force," he added. "It requires no new personnel, equipment or facilities — just new uniform name tapes and some new signs."
The National Guard Bureau puts the one-time cost of standing up a Space Guard at about $250,000.
Robinson said critics opposing a Space Guard — including the White House Office of Management and Budget — greatly inflate the component's potential price tag.
Opponents cite a 2020 Congressional Budget Office report that incorrectly assumed every Guard association would have Space Guard units, totaling up to 5,800 personnel nationwide. The CBO also estimated the Space Guard would cost roughly $500 million a year.
"The CBO totals are based on false assumptions developed with no National Guard input," Robinson said.
"The Guard has never advocated a 54-state-and-territory Space National Guard," Robinson continued. "A Space Guard could grow beyond 1,000 personnel. But that would be up to Space Force leaders."
Robinson vowed NGAUS will keep educating lawmakers and the White House about a Space Guard's real cost and the high price of leaving space Guardsmen outside the Space Force.
"Nearly half of the Guard’s part-time space professionals work full time in civilian aerospace or other high-tech industries," Robinson concluded. "These are talented, coveted people with valuable connections to industry."
— By John Goheen