WASHINGTON — The Pentagon will stand up a new combatant command before the end of the month, with the official launch of U.S. Space Command set for Aug. 29.

Speaking at a meeting of the National Space Council on Tuesday, Gen. Joe Dunford, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced the date for the standup of the new organization, the first combatant command to be fully stood up since Africa Command was created in 2009.

Upon its standup, SPACECOM head Gen. Jay Raymond will inherit 87 units, covering “missile warning, satellite operations, space control and space support," Dunford said. Raymond has previously said he expects to start with about 642 personnel pulled from U.S. Strategic Command. Army Lt. Gen. James Dickinson has been nominated to become the deputy commander.

Raymond has acknowledged that the standup of the new organization won’t be easy, telling members of Congress in written testimony from June that “my first priority will be to ensure the seamless transition of the command and control of critical space capabilities that the nation and the joint force depend on each and every day. Simultaneously we need to ensure we take steps to strengthen readiness and lethality as we complete our shift from a permissive environment to a posture for warfighting.”

The creation of the new combatant command is the first step towards the creation of a full-up Space Force, an idea that has been heavily pushed by President Donald Trump.

“This initiative is going to have a positive impact on our ability to grow the people and capabilities that we’re going to need in the future,” Dunford said of an eventual Space Force. “I’m confident the focus that a single service will bring to bear is going to have a profound difference.”

“The direction is clear. We understand it. And we’re moving out.”

Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.

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