Space Force to Celebrate 1st Birthday with Personnel Picks, Promotion Plans

With its first birthday a few months away, the Space Force is preparing to unveil a slew of personnel, policy, and culture decisions that will set it apart from the other armed forces.

The service plans to announce by its one-year anniversary on Dec. 20 which Airmen in fields like cyber, intelligence, and acquisition are accepted into the Space Force. Those names will be published ahead of when personnel from those common careers begin joining the new service in February 2021.

Officers and enlisted members in the space operations field started transferring in from the Air Force on Sept. 1.

By early October, the Space Force will reveal which enlisted personnel at the E-8 and E-9 ranks—those who are Air Force senior master sergeants, first sergeants, chief master sergeants, and command chief master sergeants—in the common career fields were picked to transfer.

“I want the names released so that people can plan their lives, and they’re not wondering over the holidays, when they’ve got enough to wonder about, ‘Hey, am I going to be in the Space Force on the other side of the New Year or not?’” Chief Master Sgt. Roger A. Towberman, the Space Force’s Senior Enlisted Adviser, told Air Force Magazine on Sept. 11. “We want to give them all that information.”

Sometime in the next few months, the Space Force will roll out its vision for how members should rise through the ranks. Service officials want to get rid of promotion tests for enlisted Airmen and instead use boards that focus on the best career assignments for people to help them advance, rather than simply raising their ranks or holding them back.

At first, though, it will put short-term promotion practices in place until the new panels are ready to consider eligible Airmen.

“We want to do away with testing, but what does that mean for the person that’s supposed to test for staff sergeant in March?” Towberman said. “We want to make sure that we know that, and that we’ve told everyone, and that those decisions are definitely done.”

The service is finalizing its Basic Military Training ideas, complete with a Space Force coin and blue name tapes, for the first seven Space Force students who go through boot camp at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, next month. A space-focused Noncommissioned Officer Academy will open for professional military education Oct. 1.

Towberman is planning a conference to discuss Space Force values, and a capstone paper to explain them, by Dec. 20 as well.

“We’re going to bring folks together, multifunctional teams, and we’re going to sit down and talk through our core values, what they should be, what they could be,” he said. “Then, what’s our strategy for making sure that they don’t become platitudes or empty bumper stickers? … We’ve got to put a little rigor into, how do we help each other live up to those values every day?”

And, yes—dress uniforms are coming.

Towberman said the Space Force wants to start testing out service dress uniforms, possibly featuring the service’s unique new insignia, by the end of the year.

The service announced last month it will use the same camouflage pattern as the Air Force and Army for its official duty uniform, but has not released details on how its more formal pants, skirts, and jackets could differ from Air Force blues.

Officials appear to be holding off on releasing the insignia designs for each rank until Congress passes the fiscal 2021 defense policy bill, which may require the Space Force to adopt naval ranks. The legislation doesn’t tell the Space Force to use the Navy’s insignia as well, but Towberman said it may make more sense to debut everything together once they know what to call each rank.

Air Force bases that host space missions, like the Eastern launch range at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., or missile warning systems at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colo., are still awaiting renaming as well. 

“It’s a little easier to put stuff off when … everyday, you can work on something important, but I think a lot of those things, we’re just going to wait and we’re going to see what happens, and then we’re going to be excited to move forward,” he said.