The Space Force's top officer told Guardians in an internal memo Monday that he's concerned with the service's mission statement, saying it doesn't do a good job of summing up its role or why it's important to national security.
Military.com obtained a copy of a memo by Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, the chief of space operations, which went out to all Space Force Guardians on Monday. It detailed his frustration and why he thinks it's likely that many in uniform can't remember their mission statement.
"How many Guardians can recite the current mission statement of the Space Force? My guess is very few," Saltzman wrote. "My biggest concern is that the mission statement does not reflect why the Nation has a Space Force and the vital functions Guardians perform."
In the three years since the Space Force became a separate and distinct service branch under the Department of the Air Force, officials have worked tirelessly to build public recognition.
Military.com previously reported on the woes that Guardians had with the lack of public recognition for the Space Force, which led to late-night talk show monologues, a poorly reviewed Netflix series of the same name, and even internal slogans that mocked the service's slow pace of development.
While there has been a lot of progress -- namely from former Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond and soon-to-be retired Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman -- Saltzman's memo is a reminder that the Space Force still has work to do to make its role clearer, even to its own troops.
The current Space Force mission statement reads: "The USSF is responsible for
organizing, training, and equipping Guardians to conduct global space operations that enhance the way our joint and coalition forces fight, while also offering decision makers military options to achieve national objectives."
Saltzman took issue with the statement, saying it isn't clear and doesn't articulate the work Guardians do to protect America.
"Additionally, our current mission statement is long and cumbersome," Saltzman said. "We can do better."
Robert Farley, a professor at the University of Kentucky who researches national security and intelligence with a focus on the service, said the Space Force does face a real perception issue due, in part, because its mission can't be displayed like an air show highlighting the latest fighter jets or a boat parade with the newest Navy carriers.
"There is not a lot of things that Space Force can do to make itself more visible," Farley said. "I can totally understand that there's a lot of frustration in Space Force about convincing people that the service actually exists, and trying to give them some sense of what it's supposed to do."
Farley said he agreed with Saltzman's view that the current mission statement is lengthy and unfocused, but doubts that a new one would ultimately change the internal culture among Guardians.
"I can see why it's hard to come up with a compelling and exciting mission statement for what is essentially just a bureaucratic kludge at the moment and trying to make that as exciting as the other services," he said.
Saltzman made it clear in his note that he wants a new mission statement to be informative, memorable and inclusive and wants to have buy-in from fellow Guardians. He asked service members to debate a new mission statement and email officials with suggestions for a rewrite.
Saltzman's memo comes one week after Military.com first reported that the Space Force had selected Chief Master Sgt. John F. Bentivegna to serve as the service's top enlisted leader -- making him responsible for culture, policy and morale of the Space Force's enlisted Guardians.
-- Thomas Novelly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.