Aug. 20 (UPI) -- The U.S. Space Command will begin operations Aug. 29, Vice President Mike Pence and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford said Tuesday.
SPACECOM 's start, known as a stand-up, will be the first U.S. combatant command since the Africa Command in 2009, and does not indicate equal status within the government hierarchy with the five branches of the U.S. military.
The date was announced by Dunford and Pence at a meeting of the National Space Council. Dunford said that SPACECOM chief Gen. Jay Raymond will inherit 87 units covering "missile warning, satellite operations, space control and space support."
The command is expected to include nearly 700 personnel pulled from the U.S. strategic Command. Raymond told the U.S. Congress in June that the standup of his new organization would not be easy, but "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."
Establishment of the Space Command is an interim step in building a military-branch level Space Force, which must be approved by Congress. The annual defense budgets in both the House and the Senate this year included funding for a space military branch.