U.S. Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan says the executive branch will nominate the Space Force chief of staff in “weeks, not months.”                                                                       

Speaking to reporters March 28 en route to Tampa, Florida, Shanahan said his team has a “good plan” for Space Force leadership and already has decided who the White House will nominate to helm the proposed sixth armed service.

Separately, President Donald Trump nominated Air Force Gen. John Raymond March 26 to lead U.S. Space Command (Spacecom) as the Pentagon shifts how it plans to fight in space. 

The new combatant command has not been formally established, but the president’s nomination to the Senate moves the process forward. The U.S. has not had Spacecom as a unified combatant command since 2002, when it was dissolved to make room for U.S. Northern Command.

Raymond currently is the head of Air Force Space Command at Peterson AFB in Colorado. Spacecom is considered complementary to the Space Force, which is proposed as a sixth military service residing under the Department of Air Force.

House Armed Services Committee member Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) opposes a section of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act that would establish a subordinate space command under U.S. Strategic Command. On March 13 he proposed alternate legislation that would allow for Spacecom to stand on its own as the unified combatant command for space.

In February, Waltz also led a bipartisan request urging the Pentagon to locate Spacecom headquarters in Florida.

Trump issued the directive to establish Spacecom on Dec. 18. The new unified combatant command will assume all space-related responsibilities previously assigned to U.S. Strategic Command. Spacecom will be responsible for Space Operations Forces, the directive reads.

There are more than 18,000 civilian military and personnel working in national security space operations.