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NEWS | June 22, 2022

Colorado Air National Guard advocates for Space National Guard

By Master Sgt. Amanda Geiger, Colorado Air National Guard

The Colorado Air National Guard had a major impact on the space community when U.S. Air Force Space Command handed over a national mission to the 137th Space Warning Squadron, now part of the 233rd Space Group.

The unit has been integral in U.S. national defenses since the mid-1990s and continues to provide to the National Command Authority 24-hour survivable and endurable strategic missile warning/nuclear detection.

Members of the 233rd and the 138th Space Electromagnetic Warfare Squadron, both subordinate to the 233rd Space Group, have spent decades honing their profession and passing their knowledge to new Airmen coming through the ranks.

According to U.S. Air Force Col. Adam Rogge, commander of the 233rd Space Group, Greeley, Colorado, and leaders within the COANG, the 233rd and 138th men and women are experienced and ready to transition to the Space National Guard.

During May 2021, Chief, National Guard Bureau U. S. Army Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson recommended to the House Appropriations defense subcommittee that a joint Active-Duty and part-time Reserve force should be established in conjunction with standing up a Space National Guard.

Hokanson told the subcommittee that the National Guard is “a trusted space and cyber partner.”

Chief of Space Operations U.S. Space Force Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond said he believes a two-component AD and Reserve force will not only help with retention, but also “will allow us to do innovative things and will give us more flexibility.”

In 2020, the Congressional Budget Office estimated the cost to create and continually fund a fully-staffed Space National Guard at more than $500 million.

Under Hokanson’s submitted plan of both a smaller Space National Guard and a two-component construct, the CBO estimated that the additional cost would be $100 million annually and a one-time $20 million cost for facilities for the new two-component AD and Reserve force.

Rogge, however, disagrees, and said: “Other reports and cost analyses paint a far different picture of the actual cost.” Rogge estimates the cost is less than $300,000 to change the name tapes on the uniforms for existing space professionals in the ANG.

“They’re assuming each state will have its own, individual state Space National Guard component,” Rogge said. “They’re making some assumptions on the sizing of the force and mission sets that may not be necessary.”

Rogge maintains that establishing the Space National Guard and using trained experts in the space community is a cost-effective way to minimize financial expenditures.

With these lower numbers, COANG leadership said they remain hopeful that Congress will see the benefits of transitioning the ANG space missions to the Space National Guard. Congress has trusted the ANG with these unique missions for several decades, and COANG leaders said they believe that they should continue to trust these space professionals with one of the nation's top satellite defense systems.

Rogge said that if a Space National Guard is not established, there could be a complex transition period. ANG units would have to wait until the Space Force finds facilities capable of performing these missions and moves equipment to the new facilities. Lastly, there would need to be enough fully trained Guardians to perform the mission.

“It could be years while the Space Force gathers and trains enough people to fully transfer mission assets from the Air National Guard to the Space Force,” Rogge said.

He and other space professionals hope Congress will see the benefits of a Space National Guard. The National Defense Authorization Act is expected to be reviewed mid-June 2022, and a final decision on funding bills made by the end of the month.

Until then, “we will continue to do our jobs, and do them well,” Rogge said.

He said he is optimistic, since Colorado already has a large space footprint, and the analytics, in his opinion, lean in favor of a Colorado Space National Guard.