After three years of effort to flesh out the Space Force, its second and newest chief of space operations said the service is now sufficiently mature to tackle the challenges ahead of it.
“We're not standing up the Space Force anymore, although there’s probably still some work,” Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, who took the reins of the service Nov. 2, said during a video interview with the Space Force Association Jan. 12. “We’re here. Now it’s time to deliver, to build capabilities, start producing on some of the promises that we’ve laid out,” he added.
The Space Force has a sizeable agenda for 2023. The Space Development Agency is set to begin launching Tranche 0 missile tracking and data transport satellites in March, advancing critical initiatives for modernized sensing capabilities and an infrastructure that can support more robust data transfer. The service is also gearing up to field its long-delayed, modernized GPS ground segment and pursue new acquisitions for key programs like space launches.
“My priorities are not going to surprise you, because they're really a continuation of all the work that's been done,” Saltzman said when asked about his top issues for the service going forward.
“No. 1 is we are going to have resilient, ready combat credible forces,” the general said. Noting “technology is not enough,” the service will need to invest in proper training and testing so that the force can deter adversaries, he added.
Saltzman described his “second line of effort” as “amplifying the Guardian spirit,” referencing enthusiasm for joining the Space Force and the need to “empower” service members to pursue new ideas. “That means we’ve got to put structures in place to take care of them,” he observed.
Saltzman listed partnerships as his third priority, underscoring the need to strengthen ties with other military services and nations. “It's got to be a deep, rich partnership based on mutual trust, mutual benefit. Everybody's got to get something out of it. This is not transactional,” he said.
Pointing to the Space Force having more applicants than it can accommodate, Saltzman said the service will need to be selective with the Guardians it brings on, but that the bigger challenge will be getting them to stay in.
“The hard part is retaining,” the general said.