Space Force Guardians Grow Exasperated Waiting for the Branch's Policies to Slowly Emerge

Ceremony transferring service members to United States Space Force.
Service members take the oath officially transferring from the U.S. Air Force to the U.S. Space Force during a ceremony held at the Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Feb. 10, 2020. (U.S. Air Force Photos by Senior Airman Caleb House)

In the summer of 2020, Space Force unveiled the motto it wanted all of its future Guardians to embody: Semper Supra -- a Latin phrase that translates to "Always Above."

But in the two years since former President Donald J. Trump signed off on the creation of the new service branch, a lot of policies and procedures still need to be established, from finalizing the official uniforms to creating Space Force's physical training standards.

Frustrated Guardians who are patiently awaiting these regulations and policies have coined their own Space Force motto online to cope: "Semper Soon."

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One Guardian, who spoke to on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal by superiors, said the "Semper Soon" catchphrase gets used when there doesn't seem to be a clear answer for when service members can expect updates from leadership.

"I think [Semper Soon] was a self-soothing mechanism by slapping something clever onto our motto that answers seemingly everything," the Guardian said. "I leaned more into it when there wasn't a lot of communication from leadership."

New Guardians hoping to make a career in the newly established Space Force are waiting for policies such as the physical training assessment, a requirement that can mean the difference between career advancement and being booted from the force.

The phrase has made an appearance on social media among Guardians to describe some of the frustration that comes from navigating government bureaucracy, especially as the new service branch tries to build a separate brand from the Air Force and also broadcast its mission to the American public.

One Guardian even started an online "Semper Soon" tracker on Reddit, which holds Space Force leadership accountable for deadlines. The website sets an automatic timer when the service commits to an announcement date for new protocols and policies.

The Space Force, a separate service under the Department of the Air Force -- mirroring the Marine Corps; relationship with the Navy --had been floated as a concept in Washington since the 1970s. But it wasn't until Trump suddenly made it one of his top priorities that it became a reality.

The Space Force's mission -- to protect and defend the massive U.S. satellite fleet -- is crucial in everything from the country's reliance on GPS to detecting abnormalities in the Earth's orbit.

Over the past two years, around 6,800 Guardians and 6,700 civilian employees have joined to support that mission. And even though it's the smallest branch by the numbers, senior military leadership has spent the majority of that time establishing protocols from the ground up for its new service members.

Robert Farley, a professor at the University of Kentucky who researches national security and intelligence, said it's easy to compare the creation of the Space Force to something like the creation of the Air Force, which was known as the Army Air Corps until becoming an independent branch in 1947.

But Farley pointed out that, unlike the Space Force, there was about five years of advanced preparation for the establishment of an independent Air Force. And many politicians and military experts weren't sure whether the idea of a new service branch was going to cross the finish line in 2019.

"I kind of got a sense that people were a little bit surprised that this was actually going to happen," Farley said. "And certainly, there was not the same level of preparation, in late 2018, that we had seen from the prior example of the establishment of the Air Force."

Additionally, the past two years were highlighted by a global pandemic and the 2020 election, both of which added varying levels of uncertainty in planning, he added.

But many of the delays in establishing rules and regulations for the Space Force simply boil down to government bureaucracy.

Todd Harrison, director of the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, pointed out that the service's predecessor, Air Force Space Command, was dragging its feet on a lot of decisions.

Harrison said the Space Force can't fall into the same pattern.

"I see the first two years of the Space Force as being really critical in setting the trajectory for the future," Harrison said. "And if too many things, too many decisions, are prolonged or delayed, then you're going to be setting yourself on a default trajectory that'll be hard to make a course correction later."

Space Force's senior military leaders said they understand the frustrations of some Guardians who want to see the new policies developed as quickly as possible.

But they're also proud of the progress they've made.

Gen. John Raymond, the chief of space operations for the service branch, talked to reporters during a media roundtable at the Air Force Association's annual convention in Orlando earlier this month.

When asked by at the conference about some of the outstanding policies that need to be put in place, Raymond said he "couldn't be more pleased" with the speed at which the service branch was being set up.

"We've got a to-do list of probably 10,000 things to prioritize," Raymond told "These are the kind of decisions that you want to get right. They're important to our people. They take a little bit of time."

The Space Force has frequently posted to social media to try to help Guardians stay up to date on the rollout of policies.

Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman, the Space Force's highest noncommissioned officer, has posted several videos on Facebook and responds frequently to comments from Guardians on Reddit about policy.

As far as Towberman is concerned, he said it's a good sign that Guardians are eager to find out what's happening with the Space Force.

"All things considered, it's going really, really well, and a little impatience is good," he said. "I want them to be excited."

-- Thomas Novelly can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.

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