Congress Expected to Pass NDAA Without Provision for Space Force Reserve, National Guard

December 8, 2020 by Reece Nations
Space Force Uniform (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Robert Barnett, Air Force Public Affairs)

WASHINGTON — Although expected to pass with bicameral and bipartisan support, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 is unlikely to contain provisions that would integrate a reserve component or National Guard for the United States Space Force.

The act, H.R. 6395, passed the Senate with amendment on Nov. 16. The bill was introduced by Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., chair of the House Armed Services Committee, and co-sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, who serves as ranking member on the committee. 

The House voted on Tuesday, 335-78, to adopt a final version of the more than $731 billion in federal spending for the military. The conference report on the NDAA now awaits a vote in the Senate, expected this week.

“This agreement is the product of months of hard-fought negotiations,” Smith and Thornberry said in a joint statement. “This year we have toiled through almost 2,200 provisions to reach a compromise on important issues affecting our national security and our military.” 

In February, then-Chief of the National Guard Bureau Gen. Joseph Lengyel broke with Department of Defense officials over a draft proposal that did not incorporate Air National Guard space units in about eight states into the Space Force, according to Bloomberg Government.

Lengyel instead expressed support for the establishment of a Space National Guard for USSF reservists in his dissenting letter to John Rood, then-DoD under secretary of Defense for Policy. Combined, roughly 1,500 army and air national guard troops serve space units in Alaska, Arkansas, Hawaii, California, Colorado, Florida, New York and Ohio, in addition to the U.S. territory of Guam. 

“Failure to effectively align and integrate Air National Guard space forces with the Space Force risks significant readiness, retention and morale issues at the unit level,” Lengyel said in a statement. 

Congress declined to establish a reserve and national guard for the USSF when it approved the force’s formation in the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, according to Air Force Magazine. If passed, the 2021 NDAA would approve a 3% pay raise for active-duty military members and a hazard duty pay increase from $250 to $275 per month. 

“With nearly 40 years of active and National Guard experience, I believe that delaying the space reserve component in order to study other manpower alternatives will orphan Air National Guard space units,” Lengyel said in a statement. 

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