Space Force Is Sifting Through 700 Crowdsourced Name Suggestions for its Troops

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General John Raymond addresses the audience in the Executive Eisenhower Office Building, Washington, D.C.
General John Raymond addresses the audience in the Executive Eisenhower Office Building, Washington, D.C., Jan 14, 2020. (U.S. Air Force/Andy Morataya)

The new U.S. Space Force is moving forward with plans to announce key information about its development, even as the military ramps up its response to the coronavirus outbreak.

One imminent announcement concerns what Space Force troops will be called, the service's top general, Gen. John "Jay" Raymond, said Friday.

"The naming of our space professionals, we did a crowdsourcing ... with over 700 responses to that, and we're narrowing down that list, and I think you'll be hearing an announcement on that in the very near future," Raymond, the first-ever chief of space operations, told reporters during a briefing at the Pentagon.

The Pentagon in February began soliciting ideas from individuals already assigned to the fledgling service in an effort to decide on a future, gender-neutral nomenclature.

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"We are moving out at full speed," Raymond said.

However, the service chose to cancel an upcoming exercise in the Washington, D.C. area, "Space Flag 20-2," scheduled for April. Raymond said that three members of the 16,000 or so civilians and active-duty airmen currently assigned to the Space Force have tested positive for the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

"We're employing protective measures, including hand washing, proactive medical screening, social distancing, teleworking and teleconferencing," he said.

Some 16,000 personnel who used to make up Air Force Space Command are now technically assigned to the U.S. Space Force, following Trump's signing of the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act in December.

Officials recently said that probably about 6,000 of those members appointed to the service will be offered the opportunity to formally transfer into the Space Force by year's end.

Other pending Space Force decisions include uniform updates, insignia as well as a logo design. Those would follow the USSF official seal, which President Donald Trump unveiled in a tweet in January.

"We will not delay those announcements [and] we will continue to make those announcements when they're ready," said Raymond.

Raymond said the Space Force has officially created its first flag, which will be unveiled during various naming ceremonies as space-mission Air Force bases will transfer and become designated Space Force facilities.

There are four such bases in Colorado, including Buckley Air Force Base, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Peterson Air Force Base and Schriever Air Force Base; as well as Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and Patrick Air Force Base in Florida.

Naming ceremonies will be scheduled when they can be conducted "in an appropriate manner, [while] keeping everyone attending these ceremonies safe," Raymond said.

Raymond, who is technically the first and only member who has transferred and sworn an oath to the U.S. Space Force, said commissioning and transferring personnel is expected to continue. For example, roughly 64 cadets graduating from the Air Force Academy in May will directly commission into the service, he said.

Raymond on Friday said those plans are still "on track."

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

Read More: The Pentagon Says Troops Are Social Distancing. Why Do These Photos Say Otherwise?

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