US Space Force begins its work as the sixth branch of the US military

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Space Force announced Friday that service members had begun wearing Space Force nametapes at the Pentagon.

The first Space Force utility uniform nametapes were spotted at the Pentagon on Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. (U.S. Space Force)

The arrival of military dress for the force came just days after Vice President Mike Pence swore in Gen. John W. Raymond as the highest-ranking military leader of the newly created U.S. Space Force, on Jan. 14. The swearing came with a White House ceremony that recognized the arrival of the nation’s newest, separate branch of the military. It came less than a month after the Space Force, by law, became the sixth independent branch of the U.S. military and marking the first time since 1947 that a new branch of the military had been created.

“The first decision the president made after establishing the Space Force was deciding who should be its first leader,” Pence said prior to delivering the oath of office to Raymond.

“I was around when the President made that decision and I can tell you, he never hesitated.

The Space Force was established Dec. 20 when President Trump signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). On that day he also appointed Raymond to lead the Space Force. Although directed by its own military leadership, the Space Force is nested within the Department of the Air Force.

Raymond noted the historic nature of the moment. “Not only is this historical, it’s critical. That is not lost on me or the outstanding Americans who serve with me,” he said.

The Space Force’s overarching responsibility is training, equipping and organizing a cspace professionals who protect U.S. and allied interests in space while also providing space capabilities to the combined U.S. military.

Vice President Mike Pence congratulates General John Raymond after swearing him in as the first Chief of Space Operations during a ceremony in the Executive Eisenhower Office Building, Washington, D.C., Jan 14, 2020. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Andy Morataya)

Raymond was previously the commander of the U.S. Space Command — the nation’s unified command for space.

The Space Force is responsible for maintaining the United States’ space superiority, even as space becomes more crowded and contested. The (NDAA), which created the Space Force, also directs that the Space Force “shall provide the freedom of operation in, from, and to space, while providing prompt and sustained space operations.”The structure of the Space Force is developing but places and people are already being tapped as part of the force.

The Hawaii Air National Guard will start selecting candidates in April for one of four space control squadrons in the country in the Air National Guard, military officials said.

The state Air Guard would select 88 military members for the 293rd Space Control Squad based at the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports.

“We’re not going to be able to hire 88 on day one, because it’s highly technical positions,” Hawaii Air Guard commander Brig. Gen. Ryan Okahara said. “So it’s going to take us a while. But because of that a third of the people that we start the unit with will be likely trained, experienced space officers and space enlisted that are in other locations.”

Operations by the new squadron are classified, but their main objective is to protect and defend our satellite communication systems, he said.

The announcement comes after President Donald Trump signed the $738 billion National Defense Authorization Act in December funding the military and creating the Space Force, the first new armed service since 1947.

The Space Force now stands alongside the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.

“Space is the world’s newest warfighting domain,” Trump said. “Amid grave threats to our national security, American superiority in space is absolutely vital. We’re leading, but we’re not leading by enough, and very shortly we’ll be leading by a lot.”

The Space Force has offensive and defensive space control squadrons but the Air National Guard was asked to create four more offensive units, Okahara said. The other three space control squadrons are in Florida, Colorado and California.

“We don’t have a Space National Guard yet, but that’s probably in the works,” Okahara said. “But right now Hawaii Air National Guard will care for and feed the space squadron.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.