SAS Panelists Express Full Support for Space Force; Warn of Personnel, Logistical Challenges of Standing Up New Military Branch

Sea services leaders at Sea-Air-Space — (from left) Navy Rear Adms. David Hahn and Christian Becker, Marine Brig. Gen. Lorna Mahlock and Coast Guard Capt. Greg Rothrock — showed support for the U.S. Space Force, but warned standing up a new military branch is a significant personnel and logistical challenge — and won’t happen overnight. Lisa Nipp

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Sea services leaders expressed unwavering support during a May 6 panel discussion for the nation’s future ventures in space — no matter whether the effort is split among the nation’s existing military branches or a new United States Space Force is created.

The panelists at Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space 2019 reiterated the need to increase the nation’s space initiatives as rival nations such as China, Russia, India and Japan build their push toward the stars.

The panelists debate the U.S. Space Force. Lisa Nipp

“Space is no longer an uncontested environment,” said Rear Adm. Christian Becker, commander, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command.

As other countries stake their spots in space, the U.S. needs to hold its “ground,” like when the maritime forces were first formed, Becker explained.

“Space is very much akin to the maritime,” Becker said. “We first went to sea to trade, and then we went to sea when we realized other people could stop our trade. … Made sure we can maintain freedom at sea.”

Don’t expect the U.S. Space Force to appear overnight, however. Services like the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard are still evaluating the personnel needed to staff an agency dedicated to the Final Frontier.

“Space is no longer an uncontested environment.”

Rear Adm. Christian Becker, commander, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command

“We are assessing as part of the [Navy Department] how we can meet the mission needs of the Space Force,” Becker said. “We’re not there yet at our level of understanding, but that’s what we have to pursue.”

Finding and retaining the talent necessary to develop a fully operational Space Force is a significant challenge, said Brig. Gen. Lorna Mahlock, the Marine Corps’ chief information officer.

“It’s exciting to think about space … but we have to make sure we develop the skill [to maintain a Space Force] and do it right,” Mahlock said. However, she emphasized that, no matter the obstacles, the Marine Corps “embraces building the Space Force” and will offer its full support.