The Space Force has enlisted 16 new Guardians who will start the service's own honor guard program, one of the major public-facing units that advertises the branch's values and presence.
This week, 16 Guardians were enlisted and "intentionally boarded and selected to serve as the program's initial cadre," the service said in a Thursday press release.
"The Space Force has been laying the foundation of its history and heritage for almost four years now. The honor guard is an important piece to representing who we are and what we do for our nation," Katharine Kelley, deputy chief of space operations for human capital, said in the press release.
Creating an honor guard program is not just notable for establishing customs and ceremonies for the service. It's also one of the first steps to creating volunteer assignment opportunities for Guardians, which will give them the chance to work outside their career field, develop leadership experience, and build up their promotion packets.
"The honor guard program, alongside other special duties, will allow our Guardians to take a step away from their career field to gain a fresh perspective," said Chief Master Sgt. Abifarin Scott, chief of Space Force enlisted force development. "Our enlisted Guardians must be well-rounded to be better leaders and space operators."
The 16 new Guardians and honor guard members will complete a 12- to 24-month rotation, according to the Space Force, and then will retrain into other career fields.
Honor guards are required for each military service by the Department of Defense, the Space Force said in the press release, and are often used for military honors, transfer of command ceremonies and military funerals.
While the Space Force, having been around only since late 2019, doesn't have a lot of veterans, there is a congressional effort underway to acknowledge Air Force space operations veterans as honorary separated members of the Space Force, or "Legacy Guardians," Military.com reported last month.
Creating a separate honor guard program is the latest effort by the service to solidify its identity.
Last September, the Space Force unveiled its first official service song. The tune was met with mixed reviews.
Gen. Chance Saltzman, who serves as the head of the service as the chief of space operations, pointed out in a memo this past May that the Space Force needs a clearer and easier-to-understand mission statement, and said he understood why many in uniform can't remember it.
"How many Guardians can recite the current mission statement of the Space Force? My guess is very few," Saltzman wrote. "My biggest concern is that the mission statement does not reflect why the nation has a Space Force and the vital functions Guardians perform."
The Space Force honor guard will start appearing at public events soon, including the chief master sergeant of the Space Force's change of responsibility ceremony, scheduled for Sept. 15. The current officer, Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman, is retiring and will be replaced by Chief Master Sgt. John Bentivegna.
-- Thomas Novelly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.