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National Guard’s top general backs Space Guard idea, calls members of the newest branch 'space warriors'

Gen. Joseph Lengyel, the top commander of the National Guard, makes his opening statement at a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill, March 3, 2020.

JOE GROMELSKI/STARS AND STRIPES

By STEVE BEYNON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 3, 2020

WASHINGTON — Gen. Joseph Lengyel, the top commander of the National Guard, said Tuesday that he backs the idea of a Space Guard.

“I believe the space capability of the Air National Guard should move into the Space Force [at] the same time as all the other [space capabilities] of the Air Force moves over,” Lengyel told lawmakers at a House hearing on the Guard’s budget. “We can’t do that unless there’s a component for us to move into. For over a year, I’ve been advocating for a Space National Guard component.”

But Lengyel said a Space National Guard is still “under discussion.”

“One of the best things about us is what we do so well is mirror the culture of our parent services,” he said. “There will be a standard of being a space warrior in the future...The National Guard has been conducting space missions since 1995."

Throughout the House Appropriations Committee hearing, Lengyel referred to service members in the military’s newest branch a “space warriors,” as the Defense Department continues to search for an official term to describe troops in Space Force.

Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., the ranking member of the House committee’s subpanel on defense, said the Defense Department is expected to give Congress a plan to integrate the National Guard and reserves with Space Force within two months.

The Guard’s space operators are now involved in a variety of operations, including space intelligence, homeland missions such as missile defense and offensive electronic warfare.

In February, other top Guard generals signaled strong support for adding a Space Force component. For now, there is only an Army and Air Force National Guard.

“Personally, I don’t see how we have a Space Force without a Space Guard,” Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael Loh, the adjutant general for the Colorado National Guard, told reporters last month at the Pentagon.

Air Force Brig. Gen. Torrence Saxe, the adjutant general for the Alaska National Guard, added: “I don’t think they would function very well if we didn’t have a Space National Guard.”

However, Guard planners have proposed limiting Space National Guard operations to nine states and territories that already have or will soon have space capabilities. They said attempting to have a Space National Guard in all 50 states and four territories, which all have Army and Air National Guards, would be costly for taxpayers.

The National Guard’s space operations force is small but growing, with some 1,100 Air National Guard troops in space operations and another 300 or so Army National Guard soldiers. It has units that conduct space missions in Colorado, California, Florida, Alaska, New York, Ohio and Arkansas, and is in the process of establishing such units in Hawaii and Guam.

beynon.steven@stripes.com
Twitter: @StevenBeynon

Watching National Guard Bureau chief Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel's testimony on a TV feed outside the House Appropriations subcommittee hearing room are the members of the second panel, Vice Adm. Luke McCollum, chief of the Navy Reserve; Lt. Gen. Charles Luckey, chief of the Army Reserve; Lt. Gen. David G. Bellon, commander of Marine Forces Reserve; and Lt. Gen. Richard W. Scobee, chief of the Air Force Reserve, left to right, on Capitol Hill, March 3, 2020.
JOE GROMELSKI/STARS AND STRIPES

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