The U.S. Space Force has officially inducted its first recruits.
In a ceremony held Tuesday at Military Entrance Processing Station-Baltimore, Maryland, four recruits recited the oath of enlistment before Gen. David "DT" Thompson, the service's vice chief of space operations, and Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman, its top enlisted adviser.
The enlistment was broadcast via Facebook Live. Another three recruits were inducted at MEPS-Denver, Colorado, later that day.
"Congratulations on being the first Americans to enlist directly into the United States Space Force," Thompson said during the socially distanced ceremony. Attendees donned face masks and exchanged "elbow bumps" instead of handshakes.
To differentiate from airmen at BMT, the Space Force recruits will wear occupational camouflage pattern uniforms with service-specific blue-stitched name tapes. Unlike the Air Force and Army, which both wear the OCP, Space Force personnel use a shade of dark navy blue known as "space blue" for stitching on their name and service tapes.
In addition, the recruits will be given tablets loaded with Space Force-specific doctrine and information, Towberman told Military.com in an interview last week.
"We've preloaded those tablets with some learning materials and different things that they can get a head start on -- 'Hey, what is this Space Force thing all about?'" he said.
Along with the structured 7.5-week BMT curriculum, a little over 20 hours will be specialized instruction and mentoring from Space Force personnel, Towberman added.
"There's several hours where we will cull them from the herd, if you will, and bring them somewhere else and give them a very different experience," he said, emphasizing that the training approach and specialized content offered will evolve based on feedback from students.
Towberman said he is glad to no longer be the only enlisted member of Space Force.
"It's great to see the big smiles, the energy, the cool blue name tapes, the Space Force patches; it's really exciting to get this physical feedback of what we knew was going on," he said. "To see them walking around the Pentagon, to see them when we get out and visit folks -- it's just really, really neat to finally be sort of growing our ranks and have a couple thousand people join us."
Until a few weeks ago, the service, which was formed last December, had only 88 members, including Towberman; Gen. John "Jay" Raymond, the chief of space operations; and 86 new lieutenants who graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in April. Then in September, the Air Force began transferring 2,410 active-duty members within the space operations (13S) and space systems operations (1C6) career fields.
The enlisted members "will graduate, I think, the first week of December, so I hope to be there ... and thank them as they graduate, and give them a Space Force coin instead of the airman's coin that we hand all the airmen," Towberman said. "And they'll get their own salute at the end."
-- Hope Hodge Seck contributed to this report.
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