The House Armed Services Committee endorses the Space National Guard and raises questions about the Department of Defense’s space initiatives

After a 16-hour markup session, House Armed Services Committee (HASC) voted 57-2 to approve its copy of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in the early hours of September 2. Several elements in the bill deal with national security space strategy and DoD space technology procurement.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) proposed adding $23.9 billion to Pentagon’s $715 billion budget proposal for the fiscal year 2022, which the committee approved. The increase was opposed by Rep. Adam Smith (D-Washington), HASC Chairman, but Rogers’ amendment was backed by a substantial majority of Democrats and approved 42-17.

The NDAA is presently being debated on the House floor. The Senate Armed Services Committee advanced its version of the NDAA in July, but it has yet to be considered on the Senate floor. The bill includes Rogers’ legislation prohibiting the Space Force from beginning a new procurement in-house until it establishes no commercial option that can be procured on the open market.

The language states that the “service procurement executive for the space programs and systems may not create a plan of record for Space Force unless such service procurement executive first specifies that no available commercially capability would fulfil the threshold goals for that suggested program, and submits such determination to the committees of congressional defence.”

The bill authorizes the creation of the Space National Guard as the reserve unit of the United States Space Force. Reps. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) and Jason Crow (D-Colo.) proposed the amendment as part of a package of military personnel reforms that passed. This clause lays the stage for a clash with the Senate. The Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the NDAA did not include a Space National Guard language.

Capabilities of the Space Force to counter threats — The US Space Force is required to offer a report to the Defense committees outlining the most likely and hazardous threats to US space dominance in the medium and long term, as well as a plan to counter those risks and the capabilities required to carry out that plan. The amendment sponsored by Lamborn states, “The committee details with increasing worry the rate at which the near-peer opponents are rapidly developing their space capabilities with the goal of undermining American space supremacy and invalidating the functionalities of our space assets.”

“The rate at which new capacities and technologies that will reinforce American space supremacy are developed and procured,” the HASC is interested in. There is also a strong desire to ensure that the United States maintains its freedom of action and movement on the moon, as well as in cislunar and lunar space. The committee also requests an update to the Defense Intelligence Agency’s 2019 report on the space and counterspace initiatives that could jeopardize US or partner interests in space.

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