New Policy Allows Space Force Guardians Part Time OptionUpdated: January 19, 2024
A new policy will allow members of the U.S. Space Force, known as Guardians, to choose between full-time or part-time active-duty service. The change is part of the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act.
This change is the first policy to give the roughly 9,000 Guardians a choice in their status. However, this policy does not create a reserve branch or National Guard component like all the other U.S. military branches. The policy aims to increase recruitment to the Space Force, retain current Guardians from being attracted to higher-paying civilian jobs, and possibly entice private sector professionals into military service.
The policy outlines specific time requirements for those who choose the part-time active-duty status. Guardians must still participate in at least 48 annual drills or training periods and at least 14 days of active duty. An alternative option limits active duty to 30 days per year. There’s also an inactive status, similar to the Air Force’s Individual Ready Reserve, where members are unpaid and don’t drill unless needed.
Part of the 2024 NDAA also included a request to the Pentagon to study the possibility of merging all space function units into the Space Force’s control. It’s aimed at consolidating operations related to the Space Force from being carried out by either National Guardsmen or Airmen with the U.S. Air Force. That report is due by February 1, 2025.
Also within the 2024 NDAA is the Space Force Management Act proposal. It’s a multi-year period where the Department of Defense works with the U.S. Air Force to transition airmen and airwomen currently performing Space Force-related operations within the Air Force to the Space Force. However, all transfers from the Air Force Reserves to the Space Force will be voluntary.