The control of the Army’s satellite ground stations has officially been transferred to the Space Force.
The Aug. 15 transfer of authority means that the U.S. military’s newest branch now has control of the Wideband Global SATCOM and Defense Satellite Communications System’s fleet of satellites, which share data across the armed services, the State Department and even serve the White House.
“This transfer will mark the first time all Department of Defense military satellite communication functions have been consolidated under a single military service,” the Space Force said in a news release.
Included in the transfer was also about $78 million moved to the Space Force’s 2022 budget to cover the cost of operating five satellite operation centers and four regional support centers that were previously under Army control.
About 500 military and civilian personnel from the Army’s Space Delta 8 unit will also transfer over to Schriever Space Force Base in Colorado.
Delta 8 is responsible for not only operating the main military communications network but also the GPS constellation and other systems, including those used to provide Secret-level global communications capabilities to the U.S. military and with allies such as Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.
The Army will, however, maintain its 1st Space Brigade, based at Fort Carson, Colorado. The brigade uses space operations to support missions across the globe.
Approved by the Pentagon last year, this move represents the DoD’s ongoing effort to consolidate space programs under the Space Force. However, the head of U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command Lt. Gen. Daniel Karbler said the Army will not be completely removing itself from the U.S.’s efforts in Space.
“Space is a joint team sport,” Karbler said at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium this August. “Each service with their unique mission sets must leverage the space domain and apply it to service-specific execution, command and control.”
Rachel is a Marine Corps veteran and a master's candidate at New York University's Business & Economic Reporting program.