On Thursday the Pentagon released a memo from Secretary the Air Force Michael Donley discussing changes to the Air Force’s space management and organization. The changes were designed to address what a review said some considered a “confusing” structure for the service’s space organization, particularly after changes such as ending the “dual-hatting” of the Under Secretary of the Air Force as Director of the NRO in 2005. As DOD Buzz notes, perhaps the biggest changes are making the Under Secretary of the Air Force “the focal point for space” at Air Force headquarters and giving the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition the responsibility for space acquisition.
Another aspect of the memo and review is the uncertain, but not particularly promising, future of the National Security Space Office (NSSO), originally a joint office between the Defense Department and NRO but now solely staffed by the DOD. While Air Force staff currently assigned to NSSO will now fall under the Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force for Space, Donley’s memo states that decisions about NSSO staff associated with the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) will be deferred “until ongoing discussions about the role of the EA [Executive Agent] for Space and roles and reporting relationships for any successor organization to the NSSO are complete and agreement has been reached for the roles and responsibilities of the successor organization(s).” The memo adds that discussions with OSD on the future of functions assigned to NSSO are ongoing, with Donley stating he is “very encouraged by the collaborative approach demonstrated during these meetings.”