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Master Sgt. Steven Edmon, left, 25th Space Range Squadron mission assurance operations flight chief, and Tech. Sgt. Ryan Seamster, 25th SRS communication focal point NCO in charge, reinstall a K-under feed on a ground multi-band terminal antenna at their warehouse in Colorado Springs, Colo., Jan. 24, 2020. The 25th SRS is among the Air Force units that will transfer into the Space Force.

Master Sgt. Steven Edmon, left, 25th Space Range Squadron mission assurance operations flight chief, and Tech. Sgt. Ryan Seamster, 25th SRS communication focal point NCO in charge, reinstall a K-under feed on a ground multi-band terminal antenna at their warehouse in Colorado Springs, Colo., Jan. 24, 2020. The 25th SRS is among the Air Force units that will transfer into the Space Force. (Matthew Coleman-Foster/U.S. Air Force)

WASHINGTON — Twenty-three U.S.-based Air Force units focused on space operations will move into the Space Force in the coming months as officials build up the military’s newest branch, Pentagon officials announced Tuesday.

The units include about 1,840 positions to transfer from the Air Force’s control into the Space Force, said Maj. William Russell, a spokesman for the Space Force. Air Force and Space Force officials hope to complete the transfers of those units in the next three to six months, but they conceded the moves would only occur when conditions for each unit were such that a smooth transition could be guaranteed.

The units identified to move conduct a variety of space-based missions including intelligence collection, space-based weapons research and protecting U.S. space assets, such as critical GPS and communications satellites. Most of the units are located in Colorado, where the bulk of the military’s space mission is housed but others are located in Maryland, Ohio, California, Hawaii and New Mexico. None of the units will physically move their location to become part of the Space Force, Russell said.

These are the units that will transfer into the Space Force and their locations:

17th Test Squadron, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado 18th Intel Squadron, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio 25th Space Range Squadron, Schriever AFB, Colorado 328th Weapons Squadron, Nellis AFB, Nevada 527th Space Aggressor Squadron, Schriever AFB, Colorado 705th Combat Training Squadron Operating Location-Alpha, Schriever AFB, Colorado 544th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group Staff and Detachment 5, Peterson AFB, Colorado Detachment 1, U.S. Air Force Warfare Center, Schriever AFB, Colorado 533rd Training Squadron, Vandenberg AFB, California National Security Space Institute, Peterson AFB, Colorado Counter-Space Analysis Squadron, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio Space Analysis Squadron, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Detachment 4, Peterson AFB, Colorado Air Force Safety Center - Space Safety Division, Kirtland AFB New MexicoPortions of these units will also transfer into the Space Force:

16th Air Force/Advanced Programs, Schriever AFB, Colorado 7th Intel Squadron, Fort Meade, Maryland 32nd Intel Squadron, Fort Meade, Maryland 566th Intel Squadron, Buckley AFB, Colorado Air Force Research Lab Mission Execution, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate, Kirtland AFB, New Mexico AFRL Rocket Propulsion Division, Edwards AFB, California AFRL Electro-Optical Division, Maui, Hawaii & Kirtland AFB, New Mexico AFRL Sensors Directorate, Wright-Patterson AFB, OhioThe units will join some 16,000 airmen and Air Force civilian workers who had worked for the former Air Force Space Command, which was moved into Space Force control earlier this year. But none of those airmen have officially transferred into the Space Force, which has only one actual member — Gen. John Raymond, the chief of space operations.

For now, airmen serving in units that have or will soon transfer into the Space Force will remain in the Air Force but assigned temporarily to a Space Force mission, while officials complete the process for service members to move from their current service into the Space Force. Russell said the process should be worked out in the coming months. Soldiers, Marines and sailors in certain space-focused units are expected to be allowed to move into the Space Force in the coming years.

Later this year, airmen will be allowed to volunteer to transfer into the Space Force. Airmen who are assigned to a unit under Space Force control and choose not to move into the new service “will remain in the Air Force and assigned to the Space Force unit until their normal assignment rotation is complete, at which time they will be moved to an assignment within the Air Force,” Russell said.

Raymond told reporters last week that he did not expect restrictions on movement implemented by the Defense Department amidst the coronavirus pandemic to significantly slow the Space Force’s growth.

The general said he expected thousands of airmen to transfer officially into his new service by the end of the year.

dickstein.corey@stripes.com twitter: @CDicksteinDC

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Corey Dickstein covers the military in the U.S. southeast. He joined the Stars and Stripes staff in 2015 and covered the Pentagon for more than five years. He previously covered the military for the Savannah Morning News in Georgia. Dickstein holds a journalism degree from Georgia College & State University and has been recognized with several national and regional awards for his reporting and photography. He is based in Atlanta.
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