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Space Force Celebrates First Graduates

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Earlier this month, 86 cadets graduated into the newly established Space Force. They form the new military branch’s first official inductees, following its two heads, Gen. Jay Raymond, chief of space operations, and Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman, senior enlisted advisor. In addition to Raymond and Towberman, Vice President Mike Pence joined the festivities and delivered a speech to the graduates.

“Two years ago, President Trump laid out a bold vision for American leadership in space,” said Pence, invoking the political origin of the newly established military branch. Trump pushed for the creation of a Space Force early in his presidency. However, two prior attempts failed.

Pushback from top military personnel helped deflate the charge towards its creation. For example, former Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said such a creation served no real purpose. “The Pentagon is complicated enough. This will make it more complex, add more boxes to the organization chart,” she said. Others, including a former Navy secretary, called it a solution in search of a problem.

Still, the Trump administration pushed ahead, eventually succeeding in passing its creation through this year’s National Defense Authorization Act. Only after certain compromises, such as family leave for federal employees, could the 2020 NDAA pass with bipartisan support.

Space Force Graduation Ceremony

The 86 graduates collected in Colorado Springs to receive their diplomas. Current Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett spoke of their importance in the years ahead. “As our nation’s first Space Force lieutenants, these leaders will defend democracy and protect the ultimate high ground of space,” she said.

However, the actual function of the Space Force largely feeds a preexisting apparatus within the Air Force. The US Space Command shoulders the responsibility for potential space warfare. It also oversees the use of space for communication to troops overseas.

The function of the Space Force, as it serves the US Space Command, is to supply training and personnel, as well as operational duties.

Barrett’s ascension to Air Force Secretary followed the resignation of Wilson in March of 2019. She returned to academia, assuming a role as president of University of Texas at El Paso. Following, Trump nominated Barrett to the position.

In his remarks, Gen. Raymond expressed enthusiasm for the graduates’ futures. “I couldn’t be more excited for you and for us.  Although we have 16,000 Active Duty Airmen and civilians assigned to the Space Force officially on the Space Force scrolls, you are numbers 3 through 88.”

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