Space Force 'Guardians' At Scott Air Force Base Await Transfer To New Military Frontier
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE — Most parts of Jaime Alvarado’s daily duties have barely changed since he officially went from being a specialist in the Air Force to a guardian in the U.S. Space Force.
As a client systems technician, Alvarado still works to ensure communications systems for the Air Force stay up, which he said can include fixing hardware and troubleshooting programs installed on government computers.
It’ll stay this way for Alvarado and the 18 other new guardians from Scott for at least another year or so until they transfer to an official Space Force command location in California, Colorado or Florida.
“There’s a military motto called, ‘Hurry up and wait,’ that seems like it goes through all the branches and even to the Space Force,” Alvarado said. “It’s a lot of waiting, but it creates that excitement too that you don’t know what’s going to happen next.”
He applied to transition to the Space Force about a year ago, along with many other airmen at Scott, and learned he was accepted into the new branch last December.
Alvarado said he’s happy to be patient. The waiting period gives him time to ponder what his responsibilities might entail.
“Possibly spaceships, I’m not sure. My dream would be some type of work on a spaceship,” Alvarado said. “If I can contribute to sending a spaceship into orbit, or even a satellite into orbit, honestly.”
The new guardians are hard to distinguish from airmen stationed at Scott. The only noticeable change is on their uniforms, which now display “U.S. Space Force” and the branch’s logo.
This seemingly small difference is significant.
The switch has reshaped how Tech. Sgt. Ryan Berry approaches his work with cybersecurity in the 375th communications squadron.
“I’m not taking it for granted anymore,” he said. “I’m more trying to get into the weeds and better understand it since I’m a retrainee.”
Berry spent his first seven years in the Air Force in a unit that handles on-base amenities, like recreation and dining facilities, before retraining into his current unit about a year and a half ago.
“I have a different type of energy now because I know I’m about to move over and do something not greater if anything but just on a different scale,” he said. “All of the military branches pretty much deal with things inside of Earth. But we’re going beyond what we typically go to.”
This different and expanded mission gets many of the new guardians, including Spc. Michaela Sosville, eager for their eventual transition from Scott.
“It’s the final frontier,” she joked. “It’s uncharted territory for me because I have not studied it at all except for in grade school. I’m excited for the unknown.”
The new guardians from Scott join more than 2,000 uniformed personnel in the Space Force, a fraction of the nearly 1.3 million active-duty members in the entire U.S. military.
They’re in the country’s first military branch expansion since the Air Force was established in 1947.
“Getting to be part of history is just amazing,” Sosville said.
She recalled the conversation she had with her grandfather, who served in the Army and Air Force. Sosville said he was her inspiration to join the Air Force.
“He was super proud of me, excited,” she said. “Then I told him I’m leaving the Air Force for the Space Force, and I saw a twinkle in his eye.”
Berry has a similar familial connection to different military services. His grandfather served in the Army and his father in the Air Force.
“That level of Army to Air Force and Air Force to Space Force, that’s pretty cool,” he said.
Being among the first members of a new military branch marries a tremendous opportunity with a sizable amount of responsibility, said Lt. Col. Ryan Schiffner, who commands the 375th communication squadron at Scott.
“They’re being trusted to stand up a new service, something our nation hasn’t seen in over 70 years,” he said.
Schiffner oversees about 270 people on base, and 13 of his airmen, including Berry, are new Space Force guardians. Schiffner said they’re among Scott’s best.
“If you look at that list of names, it’s basically a who’s who of the high performers across the squadron,” he said.
The guardians have an opportunity to influence how the Space Force takes shape, something Sosville has already taken advantage of.
She helped plan February’s induction ceremony at Scott. The inductees stood in a formation of a delta symbol, which will be on the insignia that represents someone’s rank in the Space Force.
“That’s our own little pizzazz on the Space Force,” she said. “Getting to choose that was really cool. I didn’t think they’d actually want our input on what we are going to be as a Space Force as a lower enlisted member.”
Schiffner said it makes sense that Space Force leaders are listening to all members in their branch. He explained there isn’t a blueprint for how to establish this kind of military command.
“To think we have all the right answers right at the outset, that would be a little bit naive,” Schiffner said. “You want to bring in individuals who have a voice, who have powerful insights, great ideas and innovative concepts.”
He said it’s encouraging that Space Force commanders are already listening and adopting some of the guardians’ ideas.
Sosville said she’s proud to have military leadership who value her opinions and communicate with her.
“It’s still a new branch, so they don’t have all the answers that I want,” she said. “They’ve been really great about giving me the information that I need.”
This gives her and other guardians more ability to take ownership of the Space Force and its mission. They will lay the groundwork for a branch of the military they hope will last for hundreds of years.
“We’re setting precedent on everybody else who is going to join,” Alvarado said. “I just want to set great examples for the people who follow.”
Many aspects of the Space Force will be different from the other military branches, but there will be some that will remain consistent across all of them.
“I wear this uniform exactly how I wore the Air Force uniform — proudly, every day,” Alvarado said.
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