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Top general: Defense officials nearing plan for Space National Guard

Top general: Defense officials nearing plan for Space National Guard
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Top defense officials are closing in on recommendations for creating a Space National Guard, the chief of the National Guard Bureau said Tuesday.

Testifying before the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee on Tuesday, Gen. Daniel Hokanson told lawmakers that setting up a Space National Guard is one of his “most pressing concerns.”

“I believe we're fairly close on that,” Hokanson said when asked about the Pentagon's progress on providing recommendations to Congress on a Space National Guard.

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Hokanson, acting Air Force Secretary John Roth and Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond have already briefed Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks on their recommendations, he said.

Hokanson, Roth and Raymond are scheduled to meet once more Wednesday to prepare for a meeting with Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense: Ex-Pentagon chief defends Capitol attack response as GOP downplays violence | Austin, Biden confer with Israeli counterparts amid conflict with Hamas | Lawmakers press Pentagon officials on visas for Afghan partners Trump appointee endorses Christine Wormuth as Army secretary Austin repeats 'ironclad support' for Israel in conflict with Palestine MORE, he added.

Hokanson said he, Roth and Raymond are in agreement on having a "a two-component construct" for the Space Force: one with active-duty troops and reservists and another with National Guardsmen.

Last year’s annual defense policy bill bars the creation of a Space National Guard or space reserve force until the Pentagon submits a plan to Congress.

Talk about whether to establish a Space National Guard began almost in concert with the creation of the Space Force in 2019.

Hokanson’s predecessor, Gen. Joseph Lengyel, also advocated for the creation of the Space National Guard, telling lawmakers last year, "I believe that it is important that the space capability currently in the National Guard should move into the Space Force."

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The Air and Army National Guard already provide the Space Force with about 11 percent of its forces, Hokanson said in his written testimony Tuesday, calling the National Guard a “trusted space and cyber partner.”

“For 25 years, National Guard space units have provided operational, unit-equipped, surge-to-war capability to protect our nation’s vital interests in this contested domain,” he wrote.

Still, some lawmakers remain skeptical about the potential for Space Force's costs and bureaucracy to grow.

“I'm looking forward to a breakdown on how much this is going to cost to set up a reserve and Guard Space Force as you're referring to, what would it look like in all 50 states, and if it's kind of a hybrid where you're using facilities that are already in existence with the Air Force where they’re in states,” Rep. Betty McCollumBetty Louise McCollumThe Memo: Outrage rises among liberals over Israel Top general: Defense officials nearing plan for Space National Guard Republican, Democratic lawmakers urge fully funding US assistance to Israel MORE (D-Minn.), chairwoman of the defense appropriations subcommittee, told Hokanson.