Air Force Proposes Transferring Guard Units to Space Force, Bypassing Seven State Governors

Air Force Proposes Transferring Guard Units to Space Force, Bypassing Seven State Governors

Officials from the Air Force have sent Congress a bill that would go around the governors of seven states and move Air National Guard units with space tasks into the Space Force. This has made supporters of the National Guard angry.

There is a lobbying group in Washington, D.C., called the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS). They told that draft legislation approved March 15 by Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall wants to “get around the long-standing requirement in federal law for the Pentagon to get a governor’s consent before transferring a National Guard unit to another branch of the military.”

Any suggested laws would have to be approved by Congress in the end. The Air Force did not say anything directly about the plan before it was made public. The association says that there are currently about 1,000 Air National Guardsmen working on space tasks in Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, New York, and Ohio. They are spread out among 14 units.

“Transfer to the Space Force of covered space functions of the Air National Guard of the United States” is the title of a draft bill that was sent to Congress and looked over by It would “change the status of the unit from a unit of the Air National Guard of the United States to a unit of the United States Space Force; deactivate the unit; or assign the unit a new Federal mission,” the text says.

Officials from the National Guard Association said that the new plan was sent to Congress so that it could be included in the 2025 National Defense Authorization Act. The House and Senate will be working on this bill over the next few months. Part 104 of Title 32 and Part 18238 of Title 10 of the U.S. Code are being waived by the plan.

You can’t change the branch, organization, or assignment of a unit that is completely within a state without the governor’s permission, and National Guard units can’t be moved or withdrawn under this chapter without the governor of the state’s permission.

“This proposal doesn’t take into account at all the fact that these people swore to serve in that state under that governor until they were called up to serve in the federal government,” NGAUS president and retired Maj. Gen. Francis McGinn told on Wednesday. “It goes around what the governors say.” That makes it pretty clear what they want to do.

The National Guard Association and the Department of the Air Force have been arguing about what to do with the part-time Air National Guardsmen who have been on space missions for almost 30 years since the Space Force was created in 2019.

Governors of states and leaders from the National Guard Association have pushed for the creation of a Space National Guard. The Space Force is part of the Department of the Air Force, and the White House has spoken out against it. There is a new part-time active-duty service plan for the Space Force that was approved in the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act. They want to include those Air National Guardsmen in it.

Wednesday, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis made public a letter he sent to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in which he criticized the plan for the Air Force.

“I will continue to oppose any involuntary removals of Colorado Air National Guard space units and personnel as well as any reductions to the Colorado National Guard’s force structure,” he said. “This direct override of gubernatorial authority to exercise control over the units that are permanently based or removed from their respective states flies in the face of over 120 years of military tradition, organizational structure and efficacy, and precedent.”

As of the time of publication, neither the Department of the Air Force nor Kendall’s spokesman had said anything about the proposal or the Guard association’s stance.

As part of the annual defense policy bill, the new Space Force Personnel Management Act was signed into law in December. It gave active-duty Guardians and Air Force reservists (but not Air National Guardsmen) who were working on space-related tasks the choice of working full time or part time.

Last week, reported that the Space Force’s chief of space operations, Gen. Chance Saltzman, told Guardians in a memo that he hopes to start transferring over full-time reservists as soon as this summer. He also said that the part-time service model still needs a “sheer amount of work.”

There is no law that deals with Air National Guard space units, according to Maj. Tanya Downsworth, a spokeswoman for the Department of the Air Force, who told on Wednesday.

Downsworth said in an email Wednesday, “The Space Force Personnel Management Act will allow us to integrate active-duty Guardians and Air Force reservists in space-related career fields. The Air National Guard is not included in the SFPMA.”

That bill didn’t say anything about what would happen with the Air National Guard space units. Congress asked the Pentagon in the 2024 defense authorization act to finish a report by February 1, 2025, that will “assess the feasibility and advisability of moving all units, personnel billets, equipment and resources performing core space functions” in the Air National Guard to the “operational control of the Space Force.”

Meanwhile, NGAUS leaders say that making a Space National Guard would only cost $250,000. They say that all that needs to be done is replacing the uniform tapes, unit flags, and base signs.

In a statement from 2021, the White House Office of Management and Budget said it was against plans to add a new Space National Guard component because it thought it would cost up to $500 million more each year.

It was late January when Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., proposed the Space National Guard Establishment Act of 2024. He has been working on this bill for two years.

It has 13 co-sponsors from both parties right now, and NGAUS said it “picked up two co-sponsors within the last month.”

People who work for the National Guard Association say that adding these state groups to the Space Force would be expensive and unpopular with the troops. McGinn told that many of the Air National Guardsmen in those seven states who were working on the space project wanted to stay put.

McGinn said, “Guardsmen tend to stay put.” “So they don’t want to pull up. They don’t want to leave their families behind. They joined the Guard for a reason.

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