In Space, Capability Comes Before Organization, Says Disbrow

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the GPS IIF-12 mission lifted off from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., on Feb. 5, 2016. ULA photo.

The Air Force does not want a separate space force right now because it is focused on developing and delivering new capabilities to stay ahead of adversaries, Undersecretary Lisa Disbrow said told the Air Force Magazine editorial staff.

“The real issue is outpacing our adversaries in space,” she said. “We believe focusing on the capability shortfall areas and addressing those is the most urgent thing to do.”

One place where the Air Force has acknowledged a capability gap is space situational awareness.

“There’s a range of ways we can improve” across the space enterprise, Disbrow said. “How you organize to do that is important,” she conceded, “but we believe right now we need to focus largely on capability.”

Whether reorganizing to create a separate space force is a good move is “something we’ll continue to look at, but right now we don’t believe that’s the answer.”

She said Congress has made it clear that it wants the space requirements and acquisition processes to speed up, and the Air Force is currently working on a “governance report” for the space enterprise that Congress requested in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.

Still, Disbrow said that while the service is being attentive to “critiques of the department and the Air Force” coming from Congress, for now USAF is looking to achieve greater efficiencies mainly through expanding rapid acquisition authorities and streamlining other “processes of the department.”