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Brig. Gen. Chance Saltzman, director of current operations, said USAF needs more bodies to carry out its new space mission. Above, then-Lt. Col. Chance Saltzman talks to Guardian Challenge teams at Peterson AFB, Colo., in an undated photo. USAF photo by Rob Bussard.

​The Air Force needs more space operators in order to complete its transition to a combat-focused mission, said Brig. Gen. Chance Saltzman, director of current operations, at ASC17 Tuesday.

Over the past few years, the space force has been transformed to better parallel “the way we do business” elsewhere in the Air Force, Saltzman said. The creation of a space mission force has given operators an “advanced training structure” that allows them to keep current on advancing threats. A new space enterprise vision has calibrated “the way we were building and designing, and fielding and equipping our forces” to the specific threats posed by adversaries. And a space warfighting construct has offered “a new CONOPS” for the space mission, Saltzman said.

But now the service needs to “provide the manpower” necessary “to take on a new mission set” in the space domain. “It’s really hard to get a brand-new mission like space superiority and say you can just do it with the resources you already had when it was a benign environment.” Saltzman admitted such a change is “easy to say and hard to do, especially in this fiscal environment.” But he also insisted the service could not simply “shuffle the deck chairs and expect new results from the old organization” of space power.

He expects the standing up of the new deputy chief of staff for space (A-11) to help raise the profile of space operations within the Department of Defense. “At a minimum, what A-11 does is it aggregates a lot of the space knowledge that’s in the Pentagon under one three-star.” The A-11, who has yet to be named, will “have a seat at the table on the key corporate processes” within the Department, and that enhanced voice will provide a “re-massing of space expertise to make sure that space is properly accounted for.”