Space Force Urges Certain Air Force Reservists to Become Full-Time Guardians

Part of the Space Force Personnel Management Act, Air Force Reservists in space-related career fields interested in volunteering for the U.S. Space Force in a fulltime capacity can expect the application window to open June 1–Nov. 30, 2024.
Part of the Space Force Personnel Management Act, Air Force Reservists in space-related career fields interested in volunteering for the U.S. Space Force in a fulltime capacity can expect the application window to open June 1–Nov. 30, 2024. (Tech. Sgt. Robert Barnett/U.S. Air Force photo)

The Space Force is now taking applications from Air Force reservists in certain career fields to become full-time, active-duty Guardians, the latest effort to draw more service members from its sister service.

From June 1 to Nov. 30, Air Force reservists in space-related career fields can transfer and become Guardians under the Space Force Personnel Management Act, which became law in late 2023. The legislation, part of the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act, allows Space Force Guardians to serve in a full-time or part-time active-duty capacity -- different from the traditional model of offering reserve or Guard service like the other military branches.

"This is an important first step toward fully integrating critical space expertise from the reserve into our force," Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman said in a news release. "We've been serving side-by-side together, supporting the same mission, for longer than the Space Force has existed. I'm excited to officially call the teammates who decide to transfer Guardians."

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Officers in the space operations, cyberspace operations, intelligence, developmental engineer, acquisition manager and scientist fields are all eligible to apply to join the Space Force.

Enlisted members currently in the space systems operations, intelligence, imagery analysis, signals intelligence, cryptologic language analyst, network intelligence analysis, targeting analyst, cyberdefense operations, spectrum operations technician, and cable and antennae defense operations career fields are also eligible to apply.

    Eventually, the Air Force Reserve and the Air Force will "no longer maintain space operations as career fields," according to the news release. That means reservists with the Air Force Specialty Codes of 13S and 1C6, space operations officer or space operations specialist, will either have to transfer to the Space Force to maintain that job or retrain into a different field.

    Air Force reservists interested in applying can do so through the internal MyVector website and see additional details and requirements there, the news release said.

    Notably, Air Force reservists who choose to transfer and leave behind part-time service will become full-time, active-duty Guardians. The part-time, active-duty Space Force model is still being ironed out and will take at least two years to put in place.

    "Application windows for Air Force reservists interested in transferring to the Space Force in a part-time capacity are expected to open in 2026 once policies, processes and systems are established," the service said in a news release.

    That long buildup to create a part-time Space Force option -- which Saltzman acknowledged as a "sheer amount of work" -- has been brought up in the ongoing debate over an Air Force proposal to transfer Air National Guard space units into the active-duty Space Force.

    Critics of the proposal, which would bypass state governors to transfer hundreds of Air Guardsmen and units to the Space Force, have said that there isn't a comparable service model yet as officials work through the details of setting up the part-time offering.

    The Air Force said in its news release that a similar offer for those Air National Guardsmen to transfer to the Space Force, like the reservists, may be on the horizon.

    "The [Personnel Management Act] does not currently apply to space units and personnel currently resident in the Air National Guard; however, Guard members could expect a similar process to their reserve counterparts after authorized and appropriate legal and policy changes," the service said in the news release.

    Last month, reported that an amendment to the House Armed Services Committee's National Defense Authorization Act took the teeth out of the Air Force's legislative proposal to transfer those space-related National Guard units to the active-duty Space Force.

    Additionally, on Tuesday, language added to the House Appropriations Committee's defense spending bill specified that no money may be used to transfer any of those Guard units to the Space Force without approval from the respective state governors.

    The Air Force's legislative proposal, and the House's amendments to it, still must be negotiated into a compromise bill with the Senate, and then eventually passed into law.

    Related: Air Force's Controversial Plan to Transfer National Guard Units to Space Force Gets Gutted by House

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