U.S. Space Force may not yet have its own boot camp, but the service's very first direct enlistees are about to head to entry-level training nonetheless.
Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman, senior enlisted leader of the Space Force, said seven new recruits will head to basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, where they'll train alongside Air Force recruits -- albeit with a few distinctions.
"They needed to know they were different; that's important to us," Towberman told Military.com in an interview Thursday.
In addition to their Occupational Camouflage Pattern uniforms with service-specific blue-stitched name tapes, the recruits will each have tablets loaded with information about the fledgling service they're joining, he said.
"We've preloaded those tablets with some learning materials and different things that they can get a head start on -- 'Hey, what is this Space Force thing all about?'" he said.
And while the majority of the 7.5 weeks of Basic Military Training will be spent training together with Air Force recruits, a little over 20 hours will be specialized instruction and mentoring from Space Force personnel, Towberman said.
"There's several hours where we will cull them from the herd, if you will, and bring them somewhere else and give them a very different experience," he said, emphasizing that the training approach and specialized content offered will evolve based on feedback from students.
"They'll graduate, I think, the first week of December, so I hope to be there ... and thank them as they graduate, and give them a Space Force coin instead of the airman's coin that we hand all the airmen," Towberman said. "And they'll get their own salute at the end."
Following that, newly minted Space Force operators will move on to technical training in line with their job requirements.
Since Space Force was formally activated on Dec. 20, 2019, the service has welcomed dozens of new Air Force Academy graduates to its ranks. Beginning in September, it began the process of adding in thousands more troops transferring from other services.
Towberman said he was glad to no longer be the only enlisted member of Space Force.
"It's great to see the big smiles, the energy, the cool blue name tapes, the Space Force patches; it's really exciting to get this physical feedback of what we knew was going on," he said. "To see them walking around the Pentagon, to see them when we get out and visit folks -- it's just really, really neat to finally be sort of growing our ranks and have a couple thousand people join us."
A new list of transfers to the service is expected to be released within days, he added.
In the long term, he said, Space Force basic training will likely look "quite a bit different" than it does today, and may take place at a separate installation. But recruiting and other service needs will play a role in determining those moves, he said.
"We don't want to attack something that's just good for basic military training," he said. "We will always want to attack things that are good for the whole ecosystem."
Hear the rest of Towberman's interview at Military.com's Left of Boom podcast beginning Oct. 17.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the length of Basic Military Training. The Air Force changed it in March due to COVID-19.
-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.