The Space Force will finally have its first boot camp class consisting of only future Guardians, a pivotal move for the newest military branch, created two years ago, as it tries to forge its own identity.
Between May and June, 72 men and women will go through boot camp at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, focused solely on becoming Guardians. Since 2020, the Air Force and Space Force have had their recruits complete basic military training together.
In an emailed statement, Chief Master Sgt. James Seballes, the senior enlisted leader for the Space Force's Space Training and Readiness Command, or STARCOM, called the move "a small, but important milestone in the development and maturity of the Space Force and the Guardian identity."
"Since the stand up of Space Force, our Guardians have been integrated with Air Force Airmen in basic training," Seballes told Military.com "However, the importance of developing a unique Guardian identity, along with the recognition that Guardians have different training needs and requirements than their Air Force means the Guardian experience should be tailored to meet the needs and expectations of the Space Force."
As part of boot camp, Guardians were given tablets with information about the Space Force, but only 20 hours of their two-month basic military training was dedicated to specific education about the service they just joined.
They did get some special distinctions when they graduated. Guardians received a unique Space Force coin after completing boot camp instead of the airman's version, and they had their own special first salute to a fellow member of the service.
The first all-Guardian basic military training class this May will be led by Space Force military training instructors with a curriculum that is very focused on the new service, Seballes said.
"From history, to doctrine, to values and core competencies, the Space Force and the demands placed on our Guardians are different," he said in the statement.
The 72 members of the first class will go through basic military training over the course of nearly eight weeks, and are expected to graduate June 23.
News of the first all-Guardian boot camp class finally becoming a reality comes as the Space Force works to create its own identity separate from the Air Force
Gen. John Raymond, the chief of space operations, told reporters shortly after the branch's second birthday that it was his goal to make sure the Space Force doesn't become just a carbon copy of the Air Force.
"If we go into this and just iterate our way down the path and become nothing more than an Air Force, with changes a little bit here and there, we've missed a huge opportunity," Raymond said at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event in January.
The Space Force currently has around 6,800 Guardians. That number is expected to grow to approximately 8,600 in 2023.
-- Thomas Novelly can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.