In a modest ceremony at the Military Entrance Processing Center at Fort George C. Meade, the United States Space Force (USSF) accepted its first recruits through direct enlistment Monday, October 20.
The four recruits waited with Vice Chief of Space Operations Gen. David D. “DT” Thompson, and an unidentified Chief, at 7 a.m. this morning for the camera to roll to capture the unique moment.
The introductions leading up to the swearing in were a mix of military formality and casual conversation, as both officers and recruits absorbed the moment. The United States Space Force is a major new branch of the military, formed December 20, 2019. It is the first branch to be created since 1947.
With no historic precedent of an entire American military branch focused solely on the security of operations in space, those attending included cultural references to talk to each other about the experience.
The Chief mentioned late singer David Bowie, whose creation of a space-oriented ballad was quite successful years ago. But he then recognized that the young recruits might not be familiar with the singer who died in 2016.
“It’s Air Force plus Star Trek,” one recruit said during the conversation.
“If that what it takes, that’s exactly what it (is)” the General said.
The insignia of United States Space Force does have a marked resemblance to the insignia of “ Star Fleet”, the fictional organization that enforced civil order, pursued space exploration, and engaged in diplomacy, in the science fiction series created by Gene Roddenberry.
Star Trek is given some credit for influencing and inspiring the direction of modern society’s development of technology, such as the mobile phone, video conferencing, and voice-activated computer tech.
Fictional comparisons aside, the United States Space Force has a vital role in the defense of the United States. Today that role is largely comprised of what some of the role of the United States Air Force has been in the past, but the branch is actively looking toward how it can best serve American citizens in the future.
The general advised the recruits to adopt the high standards of the other branches, but learn to incorporate their own distinct branch culture.
“The thing(s) we’ve been doing every day so far we’ve been doing for a long time,” General Thompson, a former United States Air Force officer, said. “It’s establishing that vision for the future that we’re working on.”
General Thompson told the recruits that he’d switch places with them immediately if he had the chance.
“Think about what you’re going to see and do,” he told them. “It’s just going to be amazing.”
“We need to lead toward meaning—toward greatness,” the Chief added. “As Space Force members you need to have courage all the time.”
Current roles for members of the United States Space Force include work in satellite, missile and Cyber technologies. The USSF includes locations at Cape Canaveral Florida and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
"What attracted me to the Space Force was a part of the mission where they are able to train
and protect satellites that might be vulnerable," one of the recruits said.
After being sworn in, General Thompson told the recruits: “Recruits, Thanks for volunteering to defend our nation, and congratulations on being the first Americans to enlist directly into the United States Space Force.”
The recruits will be headed out to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio Texas for basic training.
By the end of fiscal year 2021, the Space Force is expected to have about 6,500 active-duty Space Force members. The goal is to have about 2,500 members in space operations career fields in the service by the end of calendar year 2020.
Beginning Dec. 1, active-duty senior enlisted Airmen in cyber, intelligence, acquisitions, and engineering career fields will begin transferring, with officers and other enlisted members in those career fields beginning transfers Feb. 1. From there, the size of the force is expected to grow consistently over time until it reaches capacity.