Before the October 1, 2022, deadline specified in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, Frank Kendall, who works as the Air Force Secretary, is asking Congress to approve a new assistant secretary in charge of the space acquisitions. According to a spokesman for the Department of Air Force, Kendall is working with the House and Senate to change the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act so that a new assistant secretary in charge of the space acquisitions can be selected and later nominated and in case of confirmation by the Senate, assume office by the end of the year.
To supervise Space Force programs, the 2020 NDAA ordered the Air Force to establish a new position with the title of the assistant secretary in charge of Air Force’s space acquisition and integration. The office of assistant secretary in charge of Air Force for acquisition, technology, and logistics, or SAF/AQ, would continue to oversee Air Force programs. Both the Air Force and the Space Force projects are currently under SAF/AQ’s authority.
Kendall outlined intentions to reform SAF/AQ and create a new office for space acquisition called SAF/SQ during an address at Space Symposium in August. The move is designed to conform with the 2020 NDAA mandate, but Kendall said he wanted Congress’ cooperation so that the new assistant secretary that will be responsible for the space acquisition and integration wouldn’t have to wait until October next year to start working.
Kendall’s proposed revisions to the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, according to the spokesman, would authorize the new job as soon as the legislation is signed. This reorganization, according to Kendall, is a concern for Space Force to develop more quickly in the wake of Chinese advances in space technology as well as anti-satellite weaponry. Kendall said in August that he was interviewing candidates for the role of SAF/SQ. With the rank of a military deputy at the office of assistant secretary of Air Force for the space acquisition and integration, he temporarily appointed Brig. Gen. Steve Whitney to lead SAF/SQ.
According to multiple sources, Derek Tournear, who serves as the director in charge of Space Development Agency, Randy Walden, who serves as the director in charge of Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office and Troy Meink, who is the principal deputy director in charge of National Reconnaissance Office are among a short list of probable SAF/SQ nominees. The SAF/SQ division will focus on “acquisition of the space systems and technological capabilities,” according to Kendall’s spokesman.
Shawn Barnes oversaw the Air Force’s prior space policy branch, which encompassed procurement, policy, and international relations. Space acquisition policy would stay with SAF/SQ, according to the spokeswoman, “while broader policy debates will take place across the US Space Force.” Kelli Seybolt, who is the deputy undersecretary in charge of Air Force for foreign affairs, will be in charge of international affairs.