In October 2018, the Trump administration announced the creation of the U.S. Space Forces (USSF), previously known as the U.S. Air Force Space Command (AFSPC). The decision was formalized on December 20, 2019 with the signing of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2020 (NDAA 2020). Since then, the USSF has taken steps to identify the full details of an independent service facility.
This included the creation of a logo and motto (reminiscent of Starfleet and “Semper Supra!”), A headquarters, a recruitment video and a training program. They even carried out their first joint mission with the USAF, sending the X-37B into space to test a number of technology demonstrators. And in honor of his one-year anniversary, Vice President Pence announced that he has selected what he will call USSF service members – Guardians!
The announcement came on Friday, December 18, 2020, during a White House press conference hosted by Vice President Mike Pence and senior defense officials. These included the Chief of Space Operations (CSO) of the USSF – General John W. Raymond – Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller and Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett.
As Pence explained towards the end of the conference (34:20 minutes in the video), the decision was made only recently after discussions with the President:
“We just got back from the Oval Office. It is therefore an honor for me to announce on behalf of the President of the United States that the men and women of the United States' space forces will be known as Guardians. Soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and guards will defend our nation for generations to come! "
The name recalls the Air Force Space Command's motto from 1983 when it was inaugurated in 1983. According to a recent post on the USSF website, that motto was "Guardians of the High Frontier," which itself referred to Gerard K. O. "Neill's seminal work on the colonization of space. This is also in line with NDAA 2020, which states that the USSF will continue to serve in the Department of the Air Force.
Of course, there are some pop culture nuances that are inevitable here. Look at the Space Force logo, which is similar to that of the popular Star Trek franchise (the Starfleet symbol). But even there, the precedent is said to have been historic, as the USAF has been using the delta symbol since 1961 – something the USAF Space Command began doing since its inception in 1983.
The US Space Force just unveiled its new logo and motto. Photo credit: US Space Force
Still, fans of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy are undoubtedly just feeling a little tickled and complacent right now. The USSF statement, also released on December 18, showed that the name selection process involved much public input:
"Today, after a year-long process that has resulted in hundreds of submissions and research involving space professionals and members of the public, we can finally tell you the name by which we will be known: Guardians.
“The ability to designate a force is a significant responsibility. Guardians is a name with a long history in space travel that goes back to the original 1983 Air Force Space Command's motto, Guardians of the High Frontier.
“The Guardians name combines our proud heritage and culture with the important mission we carry out around the clock to protect the people and interests of the United States and its allies.
"Guardian. Semper Supra!"
Much work remains to be done to identify the different roles and responsibilities of the Space Force. Much of this has to do with public perception and the fact that the USSF is doing tasks that are normally overseen by the USAF. This may change in the future as the prospect of warfare becomes more likely and technologies develop that enable actual combat operations in space.
In the meantime, the Space Force staff can expect a bit of ripping as it's hard to tell apart from science fiction. But if one day, Independence Day-style aliens show up, the Guardians are sure to live up to that name!
Further reading: USSF, The Verge