Space Force Takes Over All Military Satellite Communications

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Wideband Satellite Communications Operations Center at Fort Meade.
Wideband Satellite Communications Operations Centers, like this one located at Fort Meade, Maryland, have been transferred to the U.S. Space Force. (U.S. Army photo by Carrie David Campbell)

Editor's Note: The following story has been updated to clarify that many of the 500 Army personnel who have been transferred to the Space Force will remain at their current duty stations but answer to the new service.

The Army transferred some of its satellite operations to the Space Force on Monday, marking the latest move to reorganize and grow the youngest military branch.

In addition to control of the communication satellites, 500 people will be transferred from the Army's Space and Missile Defense Command, based in Huntsville, Alabama, and will now answer to Schriever Space Force Base in Colorado as part of the expansion. 

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"This historic transfer from the Army to the Space Force will mark the first time all Department of Defense military satellite communication functions have been consolidated under a single military service," the Space Force wrote in a press release.  

The Army has also transferred roughly $78 million of its budget to the Space Force for 2022 to help expand the service's infrastructure.

Lt. Gen. Bradley Chance Saltzman, the Space Force's current deputy chief of operations who has been nominated by President Joe Biden as the next leader of the service, said in a statement last year that consolidating the military's satellites is a necessity.

"We need to create this unity of effort around our space missions to ensure we're up to those challenges that we face, because the space domain has rapidly become far more congested, and far more contested than ... when I was a lieutenant or a captain operating space capabilities," Saltzman said.

Some of the new Army transfers to Space Force came from the 53rd Signal Battalion, which has an illustrious history participating in several noteworthy military campaigns including France, Italy and Tunisia during World War II; counteroffensives during the Vietnam War; and supporting Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and New Dawn in the Middle East.

Many of the 500 Army personnel transferring to the Department of the Air Force -- 200 of whom are civilians -- will remain at their current stations in Maryland, Hawaii, Germany and Japan but will be under the new service, according to the Space Force.

In June, the Naval Satellite Operations Center -- NAVSOC -- at Naval Base Ventura County in Mugu, California, was placed under the Space Force's Space Delta 8 and designated as the new 10th Space Operations Squadron.

Many of the Army and Navy transfers were supposed to happen at the beginning of this year, but they were pushed off by Congress' delay in passing last year's budget.

In total, 15 units with 600 people from the Army and Navy combined are set to be transferred to the Space Force throughout this year.

When the Space Force was created in 2019, it relied heavily on interservice transfers to grow its ranks. Last year, 670 active-duty soldiers, sailors and Marines were selected to transfer into the military's newest branch, growing it by nearly 10%.

-- Thomas Novelly can be reached at thomas.novelly@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.

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