Ever since you were a kid, you’ve dreamed of going to space. You would watch shuttle launches, imagining what it would be like to be in one of those massive ships being shot up above the atmosphere. The only thing more exciting than those? Sci-fi movies about space exploration, high-tech battles between spaceships, and taking the fight against evil to the new frontier. But there was always one big question – “How can I make this my life?” You wanted to be part of the team exploring the great beyond, but you didn’t know how to get there. Then one day, you were watching the news when you saw something that made you sit up and pay attention. It only took two words – “Space Force”. The United States has been keeping an eye on the sky for a long time, planning for the day when our enemies gained the ability to break earth’s atmosphere and place weapons in orbit. In 1982, the Air Force opened a new division called the Air Force Space Command, with a mission to provide resilient and affordable space capabilities for the Joint Force and the nation.
They launched satellites to monitor space, deter the militarization of space through surveillance and intelligence analysis, and to increase the government’s presence in space for non-combat functions like weather and navigation. Based out of Vandenberg Air Force Base andCape Canaveral, they controlled all Department of Defense satellites and were key in monitoring potential missile attacks. But they were mostly a defensive force. That all changed in 2018 when President DonaldTrump talked about his ideas for a new branch of the military. Called “Space Force”, it would be an independent government-run division dedicated to preparing the United States for space warfare. While no war has ever taken place in space, the Space Force would study the art of satellite vs. satellite combat, and space-to-ground warfare where satellites would attack targets on Earth.
A lot of people were skeptical at first – after all, no other country has come close to launching a space warfare program capable of threatening the United States – and asked if we really needed to add a new division of the military. But when the National Defense AuthorizationAct for 2020 was passed, it included funding for the Space Force and renamed the Air ForceSpace Command as its own independent division of the military – the first new one since the Air Force became independent in 1947. As soon as you hear about the Space Force, you know you want to be a part of it. The idea of defending the United States against high-tech threats and beyond excites you, but you’ve got a lot of questions. What is the Space Force looking for? What skills do people need to join? Will there be a Space Force Academy? As you look for answers, it becomes clear that the new division of the military has as many questions as you do. Space Force is in its earliest days, and any new recruits are going to be part of one of the biggest experiments in United States military history.
Recruitment is just ramping up, but the one thing you find out quickly is that there isn’t going to be a traditional Space Force academy. So much for your idea of rushing out of your house to the recruitment center and starting your big adventure. Rather, the Space Force is looking for the best of the best from different divisions of the military to recruit into an elite team of initial recruits. It’s going to take a few years, but thePentagon hopes to transition people into this new branch of the service through a personnel and training center. The Army, Navy, and Air Force are the branches being targeted for potential recruitment, and the military sees a potential full enlistment of fifteen thousand soldiers. This is much smaller than any other division, with 1.3 million in the Army, 400,000 in the Navy, 321,000 in the Air Force, 168,000 in the Marines, and 42,000 in the Coast Guard. Eventually, the Space Force will have the same presence on the Joint Chiefs of Staff as the other branches, with a four-star General representing them in meetings with the President. They’ll also have an Undersecretary forSpace who will report to the Secretary of the Air Force. When the Space Force was founded, it got its first official member – General John “Jay” Raymond, who was appointed the country’s first chief of space operations. He is now hard at work on setting up the division’s infrastructure, starting their operations, and recruiting talented soldiers, pilots, and sailors to his ranks. So it seems to get to the Space Force, you’re going to have to go the long way.
Most enlisted members of the division will be members of either the Army, Navy, or Air Force, so anyone excited to join should head down to their local recruitment office. But the Space Force isn’t looking for any tough-as-nails soldier. The work of preparing for space warfare is highly technical and reliant on scientific knowledge, so they’re going to be looking for specialized personnel. Many Air Force Space Command members will be transferring over immediately, giving the division a strong start, but they’ll need more. A look at the Space Force website shows they’re looking for a wide variety of backgrounds. Specialities the Space Force is looking for include computers and computer science, electronics, emergency management and response, engineering, future technologies, logistics and transportation, and missile and space technology. They’re also looking for intelligence experts, natural science specialists, those with experience in special warfare and weaponry, and maintenance and repair. And because those who join the Space Force will be signing on for potential missions under unusual conditions humans aren’t used to, they’re looking for a large number of health care workers including specialists in surgery, mental health, health technology, and dentistry. Your head is spinning – if you want to join this initial class, which field should you specialize in? The good news is, the Space Force has a way of helping you make that decision! Just up the page from the list of specialties is a personal career assessment test that takes you to the Air Force’s work interest navigator. By signing up and answering a battery of questions about your work history, interests, and skills, you can get a thorough assessment of your potential place in the division and what role you could play in the Space Force. You might get more than one potential placement, which is good if your first placement doesn’t come through. So is joining the Air Force your best bet for getting into the Space Force? That depends.
The Air Force is smaller than the Navy orArmy, and it tends to recruit more towards people with pre-existing skills that will make it easy to hit the ground running in the highly technical world of US air combat. That makes it the most challenging branch of the Armed Forces to currently join, and your first step should be to visit a military recruiter. They’ll discuss career choices with you, and then it’s on to the MEPS station. The Military Entrance Processing Station is where you’ll be examined by a military doctor and screened for disqualifying factors. You’ll be asked about your education, your criminal history, your age, and your personal and medical history. Then it’s time to take a mini-ASVAB to see how you’re likely to do on the actual test. A test? You weren’t told there would be a test! But there is – the Armed Forces VocationalAptitude Battery, which analyzes your skills for the armed forces and determines where you’ll be best suited among the different divisions and sub-divisions. You’ll answer 145 multiple choice questions, but don’t worry – there isn’t much at stake besides your future position in theArmed Forces! The good news is, you might have already taken the ASVAB – it’s commonly given to high school seniors as part of a partnership with the military to pre-screen students for potential recruitment into the military. But many people get turned away from the Air Force every year for reasons that vary – from not scoring high enough in desired areas on the ASVAB, to any number of red flags in their personal or medical history. If this happens, is it the end of the road for the Space Force? No! The Space Force is going to be recruiting from across the military, including the Army and Navy.
Those have a lower bar for recruitment anda larger standing force, but if your goal is to be recruited from there, your best odds are if you have a specialty skill that is going to be needed in the new division. A Naval recruit with a strong background in repairing advanced machinery, like the technology on US Aircraft carriers, will have a leg up. So will anyone who has a medical background in the Navy, as the two divisions have similar concerns about medical emergencies in unusual and close-quarters situations – whether it’s inside a submarine or a space shuttle. Like all high-level divisions of the US military, the Space Force is highly classified, and that means that anyone who wants to be part of them will have to undergo a security screening. This isn’t just to determine if you’re a risk to the military secrets you’ll be exposed to, but if you have any connections that could compromise you, intentionally or not. Expect a long, probing interview about your past, your family history, and your finances. This will determine whether you receive a security clearance or not, which is essential for any high-level job in the Air Force orSpace Force. But what if you don’t want to work your way up the ranks of a military division in hopes of one day being pulled into the SpaceForce? You have a passion for the world of space warfare, and you’d love to get in on the ground floor – even if it’s starting at the bottom and helping out in the most humble ways. Are there any civilian positions available in this new military division? Good news and bad news – there are civilian positions available, but the Space Force is looking for those who have a general security clearance of 12 or above and aren’t looking among the general public.
They’re recruiting among former military veterans, former federal agents, or family members of federal officials who have already been vetted by the US government. No matter what route you take into the SpaceForce, this division will be one of the most secure ever managed by the US military. After all, it’s developing a whole new branch of warfare from the ground up, preparing for future threats and hoping to fend them off before they arise. So it seems like whatever route you take into the Space Force, it’s going to be a long one. The government isn’t going to let just anyone into their newest and highly secure military division. Right now, space exploration has drifted more into the hands of private entrepreneurs, as billionaires like Elon Musk conduct independent rocket launches to private space satellites. But as countries including China ramp up their own space presence, the Space Force is being organized to create an orderly transition for the US military presence into space. But is the US actually getting ready to fight a war in space? The answer is no – and yes. Right now, space is still considered to be neutral and international territory. While only the United States has put people on the moon, twelve countries have landed probes there and both the United States andSoviet Union have successfully landed spacecrafts on Mars.
No countries have claimed territories in space besides privately owned artificial satellites. But as the world’s superpowers ramp up their space exploration, the United States wants to make clear that any attempt to militarize it won’t go unanswered. The Space Force aims to create a strong military presence to protect our interests and deter aggression in, from, and to space while giving us the freedom to conduct our own space operations undisturbed. The Space Force is just getting started, and has a long way to go before it fulfills its mission. So does anyone who wants to join up, so there’s only one solution – if you want to be in the Space Force, join a related division, work hard, and prove yourself so the brass comes calling. Now go check out “What Would Happen If WeDetonated a Nuke in Space” for more on US military presence beyond Earth, or “WhatIf There Was War in Space” for a look at the possible future of the Space Force. Thanks for watching, and see you next time!