Apr 29, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Most U.S. governors oppose moving some National Guard units to Space Force

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaking in the Pentagon on April 26.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaking in the Pentagon on April 26. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Most U.S. governors have opposed a proposal to incorporate parts of the Air National Guard into the Space Force, according to a letter sent to the Department of Defense on Monday.

Why it matters: The governors said in the letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that the proposal to absorb Air National Guard space operations into the Space Force "undermines over 100 years of precedent as well as national security and military readiness."

Context: The Defense Department sent a legislative proposal to Congress in March that would override existing law requiring governors' consent to make changes to the National Guard in order to shift 14 units to the Space Force.

  • Space Force officials, like its Chief of Space Operations Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, have argued that incorporating those units into the Space Force is necessary to streamline the command of space operations.
  • Opponents, like the National Guard Association of the United States, say it would strip states of space capabilities and have instead proposed the creation of a Space National Guard.

What they're saying: The 53 governors, which includes the governors of Puerto Rico, Guam, and other territories, who signed on to the letter said the change "negatively affects the important relationships between Governors and DOD at a time when we need to have full trust and confidence."

  • They added that the proposal "poses a threat to the careers of state-based service members who will be forced to choose between state service or continuing in their current field at a time when there are already significant recruitment challenges."

The intrigue: The letter was signed by all U.S. governors except Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R).

The Defense Department did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

  • Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall told senators in a hearing earlier this month that the change would have a minimal impact on around 1,000 National Guard members performing space missions across seven states.

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