Rogers feeling optimistic about Space Force procurement efforts

Space

The Department of the Air Force has to stand up a separate acquisition office for space.

WASHINGTON — Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said the Space Force is making progress in the organization of its acquisition office and expects to see new proposals to accelerate acquisition programs. 

Rogers told reporters March 22 that Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond brought in veteran space procurement expert Ellen Pawlikowski to help set up the service’s acquisition organization. Congress directed the Department of the Air Force to stand up a separate civilian acquisition executive for space by 2022. 

Pawlikowski is a retired four-star general who ran the Air Force Materiel Command, the Space and Missile Systems Center and held senior posts at the National Reconnaissance Office and the Air Force Research Laboratory.

“I was very happy that General Raymond brought in retired general Ellen Pawlikowski to help from the ground up,” said Rogers. 

The Space Force last year planned to send to Capitol Hill a list of recommendations for how to accelerate acquisitions  but the proposal had to be pulled back because it was not approved by the White House. Congressional committees want to see a new set of recommendations but also a plan for standing up a Senate-confirmed space acquisition executive office in the Department of the Air Force 

Rogers said Pawlikowski was a good choice to help the Space Force organize “so that they can be agile and move quickly. She knows everything that shouldn’t be done. And I think that she’s going to do it right.”

One of the original proponents of establishing a separate space service, Rogers has been insistent that military space programs need to move faster to stay ahead of China, and that the traditional Pentagon procurement process slows everything down. 

“I’m very optimistic about them being able to meet the goals and objectives that we’ve assigned them when it comes to being fast,” Rogers said.

China is “moving at an incredible pace, to develop their military capabilities across the spectrum and around the world. And we have to focus on them, we can’t ignore Iran, we can’t ignore North Korea, or Russia, but they are nothing compared to the challenge we’re going to face with China,” said Rogers. 

Rogers said he supported the idea of using small satellites “that have less capability but can be replaced very quickly.” This approach, embraced by the Pentagon’s Space Development Agency, is to deploy hundreds of low-cost satellites. “There’s more of them, so the enemy has far more targets to try to hit,” said Rogers.

“When it comes to resilience, I think that’s how you’re going to do that, just by having a lot more small satellites,” he said. “The technological changes that take place in that domain are so rapid that 18 months from now you may have something different that you can put up there, and you want to not have too much of an investment that you can’t afford to replace it quickly.”

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