Thirty Six General Officer Billets Needed to build the Space Force Leadership Bench
US Space Force Association

By Bill Woolf, President and Founder, Space Force Association

In an announcement from the Secretary of Defense yesterday, twenty-three Air Force brigadier generals were nominated by the President and appointed to serve in the grade of major general. A well-deserved congratulations for each of the selected individuals are in order. They demonstrate the leadership this Air Force needs to develop the capabilities and capacity for the Air Force to continue to execute the mission Congress has bestowed on the service to, simply put, organize, train and equip Airmen ready to gain and maintain air superiority at a time and place necessary to support national security objectives.

Now let’s look at the number of Space Force general officer billets. Congress has also stated the need for the Space Force to organize, train and equip Guardians ready to gain and maintain space superiority at a time and place necessary to support national security objectives. The fact is, the US Space Force (USSF) has a total of twenty-one general officers in the entire service. Not twenty-one major general authorizations, twenty-one total general officer billets. How is the USSF expected to develop the capabilities and capacity with this limited leadership pool?

Gen. Chance Saltzman, Space Force Chief of Space Operations is congratulated by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Secretary of the Air Force, Frank Kendall III during the Space Force Change of Responsibility ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Nov. 1, 2022. (DoD photo by Chad J. McNeeley)

The USSF was established to ensure the space domain received the attention it deserves as one of the most critical warfighting domains. As technology continues to progress, all military services rely on not only the connectivity the space domain provides, but also the offensive and defensive options needed to ensure freedom of action in the domain. With this overwhelming reliance, it is time to examine current general officer billets across the services to right size the leadership needs of the newest branch of the military.

New General Officer Billet Structure Will Develop Leadership Needed In Space Force

Congress needs to look at current general officer billets across the services to ensure the Space Force has the bench to create the leaders needed for the new service. Currently, the USSF has a total of twenty-one general officer billets. Two generals (4-star), six lieutenant generals (3-star), three major generals (2-star), and ten brigadier generals (1-star). With these numbers, if an individual is a major general in the Space Force today, there’s probably a one hundred percent chance they will make it to general. Additionally, how is the Space Force supposed to force develop six lieutenant generals if there are only three major general billets authorized. In order to develop the Space Force leadership, a minimum of thirty-six general officer billets is required. To build out the force development progression the Space Force needs would equate to sixteen brigadier generals, twelve major generals, six lieutenant generals and two generals. With this new general officer billet structure, the Space Force can develop the leadership it needs to run the service.

It is a historic moment for the Space Force as it’s received the largest budget dedicated to space systems. Without the leadership positions in place to manage the programs and processes needed to organize, train and equip Guardians this nation is only solving half of the equation. Because general officer billets are managed by title 10 authority and limited in numbers, the SFA invites other organizations to partner with us to examine current general officer billets across the DoD to determine how best to right-size the leadership opportunities in the Space Force to ensure the approved budget gets the attention it deserves in support of the new service’s mission.

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