Guardian of the Space Force describes experience as a student at War College | military

The native Florida student was in third grade when he was swept away by a book about the solar system.

“I remember being impressed and confused by how cool and interesting the room was,” said Blackman. “When I went to school, I could speak the language – math and science.”

A natural talent combined with a fascination for rocket technology drove him through 20 years of service as an Air Force officer. Then a new opportunity entered its orbit.

“I joined the Space Force on July 23, a few weeks before classes began,” said Blackman, now a student at US Army War College at Carlisle Barracks.

“When the Space Force got up, they were looking for various specialties to get away from the Air Force,” he said. “There were several of us whose careers were being sought by both the Air Force and the Space Force. You gave us a choice. We could apply for transition to the Space Force or stay with the Air Force. “

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For much of his career, Blackman has been an expert on acquisitions, where the military works closely with industry to develop and source technology for use by war fighters.

Over time, Blackman specialized in missiles, satellites, and anti-missile systems. Since much of this equipment was designed for space, it made sense to switch to the Space Force, which today is celebrating its second anniversary as the newest branch of the US military.

“Something like that is like once a century,” said Blackman. “To be part of that first wake up, to be on the first floor. That is convincing. “

Space awareness

The last time the military introduced a new branch of service was in the run-up to 1947, when the Air Force split from the army. Then as now, transitions must be handled carefully.

So far, the Space Force consists mainly of military and civilian personnel who have been transferred from other branches of service. Many of these people were on the joint space command for years, said Greg Hillebrand, a professor at Army War College. Your initial transfer formed a roster that the Space Force should build on.

Two years later, the work continues as the military adjusts to a new service and determines the best division of labor and mix of expertise. Meanwhile, the Space Force staff – known in the military as Guardians – strive to forge their own culture and identity within the establishment as experts continue to come together in a focused approach to space management.

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“The Air Force has long talked about airworthiness, which is the area in which you operate,” said Blackman. “In the Space Force we see more of a culture of space thinking.”

So far, the approach has been to eliminate redundancies, streamline operations and flatten the command structure so that the Space Force can operate with the agility required for the rapid developments in space.

“There’s a bias towards the technical,” said Blackman. “We are at the forefront of human innovation and ingenuity.”

Technology developed for space travel has become part of everyday life from day one.

Since the Space Force will have a choice of who it wants, it will likely have the most educated people of all branches of service, Hillebrand said.

At the moment, the Space Force lacks its own training and recruiting command, Blackman said. Instead, the Air Force is offering a Space Force expansion that allows recruits to be recruited for basic training before they are sent to space-oriented training.

There were guardians who graduated from the Air Force and other service academies, said Hillebrand.

Role of the war college

Army War College at Carlisle Barracks has hosted three Space Force guards as students on its strategic studies course. A class of 2021 graduates transferred to the Space Force midway through this academic year.

Blackman is one of two guardians in Class of 2022. His focus is on being a War College student with the goal of becoming a future strategic executive.

“Even though I’m not there, I can feel what’s going on,” Blackman said of the Space Force. “I see the organizational changes from a distance. It’s exciting to know that in a few months I’ll be right in the middle of it. “

Resident students on the War College program graduate in June before moving on to their next assignment. War College students include not only working US military officers, but also international scholars from US friendly countries and high-ranking civilian leaders from other branches of federal government.

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In the meantime, when asked to do so, Blackman offers the other members of his seminar group his perspective as a former aviator and current Guardian of the Space Force.

“I’m getting a big dose of land power,” Blackman said, referring to his studies. “I appreciate what land power means to the struggle and how space can support these people.”

As much as possible, War College is strategically integrating space operations into its core curriculum not only for resident students but also for distance learning students.

Each student gets about three hours of class on the subject, said Col. Benjamin Ogden, a professor at War College. In addition, Ogden and Hillebrand teach electives in the department.

The first elective of the track “Foundations of Space Power for Senior Leaders” is open to all students and deals with the history, skills and strategic importance of space operations.

“Here was space, where it goes and why it is so important,” said Ogden. “It is [a course] for those interested in space, for space organizations or just science fiction freaks. “

The second elective, “Warfighting in the Space Domain”, is a deeper, classified introduction to the more sensitive aspects of the subject. It is only open to US students.

Additionally, Ogden and Hillebrand are among the faculty members who offer support and expertise to students who wish to write their strategic thesis on space exploration.

Whenever possible, War College is bringing in high-level guest speakers from the Space Force and Space Command to deliver lectures to students, Ogden said. Groundwork is also being done at the Center for Strategic Leadership, which is also located on the Carlisle Barracks campus.

“We’re helping with some of the war game endeavors,” said Ogden. “This is a strategic land power school, but space needs to be recognized, recognized and visualized in national security discussions.”

Email Joseph Cress at [email protected]

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