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US Space Force welcomes first batch of graduates to ranks

Stephen Kuper

Eighty-six graduates from the US Air Force Academy celebrated receiving their diplomas on 18 April and moved directly into the US Space Force, marking the first infusion of commissioned personnel into the new service since its creation last year.

US Space Force welcomes first batch of graduates to ranks
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The 86 newest members of the Space Force will fill a variety of roles, the majority of whom are assigned to the space operations career field and will be moving to Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, to begin undergraduate space training.

The remaining members are assigned to a variety of career fields, such as cyber space operations, intelligence, developmental engineer and acquisitions manager, and will go to their respective initial skills training locations across the country.

Upon completion of training, all 86 will be assigned to a Space Force unit.

Vice President Mike Pence was in attendance at the event and congratulated the entire graduating class.

“Last December, the President made that vision a reality when he put his signature on a historic law that created the six branch of our armed forces, the United States Space Force. I am proud to stand here today as 86 members of the Air Force Academy’s class of 2020 will commission as the first company grade officers of the Space Force,” Vice President Pence said.

While approximately 16,000 military and civilians from the former Air Force Space Command are now assigned to the Space Force, the arrival of these newest officers signals that the new service is taking a significant step towards filling its ranks.

Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett commented on the vital role these new officers will play in defence of the nation and in the newest branch of the US military.

“As our nation’s first Space Force lieutenants, these leaders will defend democracy and protect the ultimate high ground of space. As they depart the academy today, they will join the ranks of air and space power pioneers. They will be instrumental in building a lean, agile and forward-looking Space Force defending our nation, our allies and our American interests in space,” Secretary Barrett added.

The Space Force leadership team General Jay Raymond, Chief of Space Operations, and Chief Master Sargeant Roger Towberman, Senior Enlisted Adviser, welcomed the new space professionals with excitement.

Created by an act of Congress, the Space Force came into existence on 20 December 2019, with a mandate to organise, train and equip a force that protects US and allied interests in space. It must also be able to provide space capabilities to the joint force through the combatant commands.

Gen Raymond said, “You are our future, and I need you to be bold as you will build this service from the ground up. You will help define our warfighting culture, build the Space Force as the first digital service, and lay the foundation of a service that is innovative and can go fast in order to stay ahead of a significant and growing threat.”

Over the next 18 months it will define its organisational structure and move personnel into the service through military transfers and accessions, and civilian new hires and assignments.

As military transfers are complete, there will be roughly 6,500 military personnel in the Space Force while approximately 3,500 civilians will remain Department of Air Force civilians assigned to the new service.

In addition, there will be around 6,000 Air Force personnel, military and civilian, assigned to the Space Force to provide the base operational support functions such as medical, logistics, personnel, finance and security forces.

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