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'Guardian Spirit' Key to Space Force Success

The top officer overseeing the nation's newest military service is tapping into the talents and drive among ranks to define the Space Force ethos and ensure its success for years to come.

A man in uniform gestures with his hands while standing on a stage.
Gen. B. Chance Saltzman
Space Force Chief of Space Operations Gen. B. Chance Saltzman visits U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, May 18, 2023.
Photo By: Kristopher Burris, Navy
VIRIN: 230518-N-YG388-0041

Space Force Gen. Chance Saltzman, the chief of space operations, said amplifying opportunities for Space Force guardians to shape the future of their service remains among his top lines of effort. He spoke today at an event sponsored by the Center for a New American Security in Washington, D.C. 

"There is this thing called the guardian spirit," Saltzman said. "The people that join and the way they want to interact with the service, the way they want to interact with the military, the types of work they want to do — they come in with this innate feeling about how they want to contribute, and it's all good. 

"I just need to make sure we amplify that," he said.  

Doing so, Saltzman said, has given guardians the opportunity to shape their service from the ground up.  

Last month, for example, the Space Force unveiled its revamped mission statement: Secure our nation's interests in, from, and to space.

"I didn't have to think of that," Saltzman said. "The guardians in the field were the ones that really said, 'this is what we think is important'." And we kind of just put it together." 

He said other elements of the Space Force's culture were the direct result of input from the ranks.  

"The mission statement was largely crowd sourced," he said. "The actual name that we call ourselves — guardians — was crowd sourced by guardians."

Service members in uniform are photographed on a watch floor.
On Watch
Service Members attached to Joint Task Force-Space Defense take a look at a computer screen at Schriever Space Force Base, Colo., Dec. 19, 2022.
Photo By: Dennis Rogers, Space Force
VIRIN: 221219-F-WR604-1003

The approach has also yielded other tangible successes, such as the rapid fielding of a smart phone application which serves as the go-to source for up-to-date information about the Space Force.  

He said contracting out the project would have taken months and cost millions of dollars. 

"A group of guardians said, 'we can do this'," he said. "So they had four super coders that are guardians that built this app and it took them six weeks." 

"That's amplifying the guardian spirit," he said. "Take what we know we can do and just let them do it." 

Salzman said his focus on leveraging that resident spirit is part of three overarching lines of effort guiding his approach as the Space Force's top officer responsible for organizing, training and equipping the force.  

He said he has remained keenly focused on fielding combat-ready forces to ensure the U.S. can lead in the space domain and deter conflict.

"That's one of the reasons we stood up as the Space Force was to make sure that we will be ready to contest the domain to meet military objectives associated with our pacing threat," he said. "Fielding combat-ready forces has been at the top of the list and almost everything we've tried to do."

Two people shaking hands.
Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman meets with Japanese Defense Minister Minoru Kihara at the Ministry of Defense in Tokyo Japan, Sept. 25, 2023. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Stephanie Serrano)
Photo By: Tech. Sgt. Stephanie Serrano
VIRIN: 230925-F-EX759-1342

Salzman said he has also remained focused on building partnerships to ensure the U.S. and its allies stay in the lead. 

Those lines of effort, he said, come down to preventing future conflicts.  

"My main goal is to prevent war," he said. "I daresay that is the Department of Defense's goal." 

"It is continually attempting to deter," he said. "It is continually attempting to put the right capabilities in the right place at the right time to stop any aggressive military action, to stop a crisis from turning into a conflict."

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