FFor some Americans, US Space Force is little more than a Twitter punchline or Netflix satire with lackluster reviews.
Retired Colonel Bill Woolf hopes the Space Force Association (SFA) can help change that.
“If the only thing people have to refer to is late-night comedians or a Netflix series, then that’s a problem,” said Woolf, president and founder of the association, in a recent interview. phone call with The Hill.
“And so our first year at SFA was focused on broadcasting interviews with senior leaders so that we could have this dialogue, and it is public, and we can share this information, because there are several audiences who have just need to understand what the Space Force is all about,” he said. “Probably one of the most important is that the American people need to understand the importance of service.”
The association was founded in October 2019 — months before Space Force was officially established as the sixth branch of the U.S. military — with the goal of supporting the fledgling service, giving its members a voice, and connect the space operations community with the private sector.
Woolf, 49, got his start in the military as an ROTC cadet at Northern Arizona University, where he was working on a degree in math education.
His father had been in the Air Force for a while during the Vietnam era, but joining the army wasn’t something he had planned on doing until a friend told him. says he could get his master’s degree, something he thought would be beneficial for a career in education, paid for by joining ROTC.
Woolf’s first assignment was as a missile launch officer at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, where he said the relationships and friendships he had with “some of the most phenomenal people in the world ‘army’ had convinced him to stay in the service beyond the commitment he had made. under the ROTC.
“As the youngest of four kids, if you asked my mom how I got through life, she’d be like, ‘Yeah, tripping is probably a good way to explain it,'” Woolf said. “I’ve always been interested in the military, but didn’t pay much attention to it until my first posting where I fell in love with it and of course the ROTC program, where it really got me. instilled a desire to serve.”
Woolf’s first foray into space operations came when he received cross-training with the 4th Space Surveillance Squadron at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. There, in 2001, he was enticed to enroll in the Weapons Instructor Course at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, where he was able to learn “everything there is to know about operations. spatial”.
This is where he got his call sign: Hippie. He was driving a 1969 Volkswagen Beetle that his brother left him when members of his squadron in Holloman asked if they could paint it.
“So one weekend, I went on leave, and came back, and my car had been painted different colors on every quarter panel with free daisies painted all over the car,” he recounted.
From there, he had a choice of getting it repainted or taking it to the weapons instructor course with the Daisies, he said. He went with the Daisies, which, combined with what he described as his “easy-going personality”, earned him the nickname Hippie.
After the Weapons Instructor Course, much of his military career focused on integrating space capabilities into operations in the United States and around the world. For example, he traveled to Afghanistan in 2002 to support “blue force” GPS tracking for special operations forces, he said.
Early in his career, he said he found that efforts to integrate space into missions were often rejected. But it has become “more popular” over time, he said.
“At first it was difficult because every time you talked about a new mission set in joint combat, people were like, ‘Well, we’ve already done that,'” he said. “But generally if you start peeling back the layers of the kinds of integration work that’s been done, you’ll find that there really hasn’t been a lot of work done.”
Woolf retired from the Air Force in 2018 after a 24-year career. Today, he is the CEO of the Woolf Consulting Group and divides his time between SFA headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the association’s Space Center of Excellence in Washington, DC, and Wolf Creek, Mont.
Woolf decided to launch the SFA after conversations with colleagues about the need to connect the space operations community to the private sector, where retired space operators often go to work.
“I said, ‘Yeah, that sounds good, someone should do it,’ and they said, ‘No, you should,'” he recalled.
At a conference at the Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles, Woolf showed a friend a draft of the association’s website, and the friend encouraged him to launch it that day. A day after the site was created, Woolf said, the SFA had 100 members.
Among the association’s ongoing projects are working with the Air Force Academy to set up a space combat lab for cadets and creating a space education training center to work with universities to train those in the private sector to work with the Space Force.
But the association’s biggest goal right now is to quantify what it means to have “space superiority,” Woolf said. As part of this, the organization is working with consultancy LMI to set up the Space Center of Excellence, the center’s first study planning to focus on quantifying the space superiority mission.
“The other services do a very good job of quantifying to Congress what they need to accomplish their domain superiority mission,” Woolf said. “I think Space Force has the opportunity to help define what that looks like. We talk a little bit about space superiority, but until you’re able to quantify it and say what it actually means , that’s the amount of resources needed, that’s the amount of expertise that we need from our guardians – that’s the conversation that I think needs to happen.