The United States Space Force’s one-year anniversary celebration – a press conference at the White House on Friday, December 18 – doubled as a baptism. Just as the Navy has sailors and the Army has soldiers, some 2,000 members of the new branch of the United States Armed Forces will be called “Guardians,” Vice President Mike Pence announced.
Officials chose the title after a “year-long process”, including a call for “gender neutral, distinctive and [emphasizing] a future-oriented military force” “tasteful” ideas. The nickname immediately asked jokes on how the awe-inspiring name calls to mind pop culture mainstays like the Marvel Series guardians of the galaxy and the Destiny video game. But, as the Space Force website clarifies, “Guardians is a name with a long history in space operations, dating back to the original command motto of Air Force Space Command.” [now part of the Space Force] in 1983, “Guardians of the High Frontier”.
On December 20, 2019, President Donald Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act that year, which created the Space Force. It is the first branch of the military to be created in more than 70 years; the Air Force was separated from the Army in 1947. The futuristic work of the Guardians, however, isn’t exactly new to the Pentagon.
“As it exists today, Space Force is primarily a rebrand of Air Force Space Command, but with the power to make decisions independent of the Air Force,” Ian Carlos Campbell wrote in The edge.
The overall goal of the Guardians, as reported by Tariq Malik and Chelsea Gohd for Space.com, is to prevent military clashes in space as well as to monitor and guard US spacecraft. These tasks include tracking some 26,000 objects and preparing the military for what is known as “orbital warfare,” that is, conflict that could alter satellite systems.
For Air & Space magazine, Joe Pappalardo detailed how the Space Force “Aggressors” squadron simulates potential space attacks for different areas of the military, some that are science fiction and others that might be more realistic, like ” jammers” that cut off satellite communications or the “anti-satellite weapon” recently tested by a Russian satellite.
The territory covered by the Space Force may be huge, but it is still a small organization. This spring, it consisted of literally two members, although the current count – 2,400 Guardians, almost all transferred from the Air Force – is expected to triple by the end of next year, according to stars and stripes‘Corey Dickstein. The service’s first astronaut, Mike Hopkins, joined the Air Force on December 18. Even when complete, the number of Guardians will be minimal compared to the enlistment of the other five military branches.
While the men and women of Space Force now have a title, a motto, bases, camouflage uniform (no, it’s not a galaxy print) and a crest that looks like a “Star Trek” symbolOriana Pawlyk Military.com reports that other rituals and trappings of a military branch, such as a dress uniform and rank structure, remain in the works. Air Force musicians are also busy composing an official song for the Guardians, but unlike the music that accompanies the fiction guardians of the galaxythe Space Force ballad probably won’t be a groovy ’70s song.