Personnel Requirements and Costs of New Military Space Organizations
Congressional Budget Office
May 08, 2019
CBO estimates the added personnel requirements and costs of five kinds of military space organizations. DoD wants to create three, which could increase annual costs by $1 billion to $2 billion and require onetime startup costs of $2 billion to $5 billion.

The U.S. military conducts many operations that involve space. Such operations consist mostly of launching, operating, and maintaining satellites that are used for various purposes, such as communicating, observing the weather, and monitoring other countries’ missile launches.

CBO estimates that about 23,000 full-time positions within the Department of Defense (DoD) are dedicated to performing space activities or to supporting those who do—excluding space activities in the intelligence agencies. At the moment, 93 percent of those positions are in the Department of the Air Force.

The Administration has proposed changing that arrangement by creating what it calls a space force—an independent military service within the Department of the Air Force. The Administration has also proposed two more space organizations in its budget proposal for fiscal year 2020: a new combatant command and a new agency that would be responsible for the development and acquisition of space systems.

Furthermore, the Administration has proposed creating a civilian Under Secretary for Space who would supervise the space service, report to the Secretary of the Air Force, and perhaps make policy about space.

What Has CBO Analyzed?

In this report, CBO examines five types of space organizations that DoD could create, including the three that the Administration has proposed:

-- A new military service within a new military department that would be analogous to the Department of the Army and that would organize, train, and equip space forces;

-- A new military service that would exist within the Department of the Air Force, much as the Marine Corps exists within the Department of the Navy, and that would likewise organize, train, and equip space forces;

-- A new combatant command that would be structured like the military’s Cyber Command and that would employ space capabilities in peacetime and during conflicts;

-- A new agency that would be focused on developing and acquiring space systems and that would be analogous to the Missile Defense Agency; and

-- A new directorate that would make policy about space and that would be analogous to the office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence.

CBO estimated the number of new personnel that each of those five organizational options would require for overhead and management, the annual costs that those new personnel would entail, and the onetime startup and transition costs of each option.

The estimates in this report are for illustrative policy options; they do not represent cost estimates for any particular piece of legislation.

CBO focused on how much the options would increase costs, not how much each option would cost in total. Some current positions in DoD would simply be transferred to a new space organization and thus would not increase DoD’s total costs.

Also, because it is unclear how much new capability DoD or the Congress might decide to add to a new organization, CBO’s analysis does not account for any new capabilities; it includes only the cost of new administrative structures.

In addition, the analysis incorporates the assumption that intelligence agencies’ space capabilities, which are substantial, would not be transferred to a new space organization.

And it incorporates the assumption that positions transferred from existing services to a new organization would not be filled again by the existing services; if they were, costs would increase.

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