More Than 8,500 Airmen Have Volunteered to Join Space Force

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Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman displays his insignia during a presentation of the U.S. Space Force flag in the Oval Office.
Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman displays his insignia during a presentation of the United States Space Force flag in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, May 15, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

More than 8,500 active-duty airmen have volunteered to transfer into the U.S. Space Force.

Officials announced Tuesday that thousands of airmen across 13 eligible officer and enlisted career fields have signed up to move permanently into the newest military branch.

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"I am incredibly proud of the men and women who made the bold decision to volunteer to join the U.S. Space Force and defend the ultimate high ground," Gen. Jay Raymond, Space Force's chief of space operations, said in a release. "It is a critical time for space, and those Airmen will build the Space Force necessary to compete, deter, and win as required to meet the needs of the National Defense Strategy."

The sixth military service, which was signed into existence by President Donald Trump on Dec. 20, 2019, is currently operating with the aid of 16,000 airmen detailed temporarily from what was formerly known as Air Force Space Command.

Officials have said that about 6,000 of those temporary personnel will be offered the opportunity to formally transfer into the Space Force by year's end.

"Volunteers represent officers and enlisted members in the organic space Air Force Specialty Codes [AFSCs] of space operations (13S) and space systems operations (1C6), and officers and enlisted members in several career fields common to both the Air Force and Space Force, including intelligence (14N), cyberspace operations (17X), developmental engineer (62E), acquisition manager (63A), operations intelligence (1N0), geospatial intelligence (1N1), signals intelligence (1N2), fusion analyst (1N4), targeting analyst (1N8), cyberspace support (3D0), and client systems (3D1)," the release states.

The service will begin notifying applicants from these career fields in July to explain the next steps in the transfer process.

Jobs including space operations (13S) and space systems operations (1C6) are considered "organic space career fields" eligible for transfer. Those first transfers are set to begin Sept. 1, officials said.

"For volunteers in common career fields, transfer boards will be scheduled by AFSCs as needed between July and November, and the results will be announced about 30 days after each board is completed," the release states.

"Since the boarding and selection process will take additional time, transfers for personnel with common AFSCs are expected to begin Feb. 1, 2021," it adds.

Should airmen in the organic space fields change their minds or decline a transfer, the Air Force will work with them to apply to transfer into a new career field, move into the Reserve, or apply for separation or retirement.

For now, "those service members will remain in the Air Force and may be assigned duties in the Space Force," the release states. "At the end of the transition period, expected to be sometime in 2022, organic space AFSCs will be removed from Air Force inventory, and assignments in those mission areas will no longer be an option for Air Force members."

Guardsmen and reservists who are already executing space missions and currently aligned with the Space Force will continue supporting it; officials are weighing how best to incorporate them. A Space Force Reserve component is still being considered.

The Air Force's application program closed May 31, but there will be windows for the other services.

For example, the Space Force anticipates moving some Army and Navy space jobs between fiscal 2022 and 2023. But those services will likely limit how many space professionals will transfer over -- roughly 100 from each branch, according to media reports.

Space Force officials will release more details on the interservice transfer program in fiscal 2021, according to the release.

Last month, the official Space Force flag was unveiled at the White House. The flag bears the image of the Space Force seal, which was unveiled by Trump in a tweet in January.

Other pending Space Force decisions include uniform updates, insignia and a logo design. Officials are also deciding what to call its members.

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

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

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