All Your Space Force Questions Answered

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Left of Boom Episode 11: All Your Space Force Questions Answered (Featuring Roger Towberman)
Left of Boom Episode 11: All Your Space Force Questions Answered (Featuring Roger Towberman)

It wasn’t so long ago that the notion of a military Space Force conjured up images of Star Trek and other fictional future worlds. But our own world is changing, and with a lot of work behind the scenes and a very public push from President Donald Trump, U.S. Space Force became the 6th military service on December 20, 2019 -- the first new military service since the creation of the U.S. Air Force 72 years prior.

There’s no roadmap or guide book for creating a new military service’s character and values, and a thousand choices have yet to be made, from uniform design to what to call these new space operators. And at the heart of all those decisions is Chief Master Sergeant Roger Towberman, senior enlisted leader of the Space Force. He joined the fledgling service after a distinguished 30-year career in the Air Force that saw decorated service in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, he’s here to talk with us about the logistics of building a military service from the ground up.

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Mentioned in this episode:

Space Force

Air Force Basic Military Training

Space Force Academy Graduates

First Space Force Deployment

Chief Master Sgt. of Space Force Roger Towberman

War in Space

The following is an edited transcript of this episode of Left of Boom:

Hope Hodge Seck 0:00

Welcome back to Left of Boom. I'm your host Hope Hodge Seck, managing editor for Military.com. Today's guest is so interesting, and the topics so timely that I'm eager to dive right in. It wasn't so long ago that the notion of a military Space Force conjured up images of Star Trek and other fictional future worlds, but our own world is changing. And with a lot of work behind the scenes and a very public push from President Donald Trump, U.S. Space Force became the sixth military service on December 20, 2019, the first new military service since the creation of the U.S. Air Force 72 years prior. There's no roadmap and no guidebook for creating a new military service's character and values. And 1,000 choices have yet to be made, from uniform design to even what to call these new space operators. And at the heart of all those decisions is Chief Master Sergeant Roger Towberman, senior enlisted leader of the Space Force. He joined the fledgling service after a distinguished 30-year career in the Air Force that saw decorated service in Iraq and Afghanistan. And today, he's here to talk with us about the logistics of building a military service from the ground up. Chief Master Sergeant Towberman, welcome to the show.

Roger Towberman 1:12

Thanks. It's great to be here. I really appreciate it.

Hope Hodge Seck 1:14

So it's now about six months since the first new academy graduates joined Space Force, and about a month since thousands of enlisted members began transferring in. So can you start off by providing a snapshot of what it's like right now to be a brand-new officer or enlisted transfer in the service that is so very new?

Roger Towberman 1:33

Well, right now, for me, it's a lot less lonely than it was. From April and into May, we were kind of by ourselves, and I was the only enlisted person until last month. So 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, like, people are excited about this. And 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 and, and more to come with a new list of transfers being released at the end of the week. And I mean, we're just, it's just really, really exciting. And it's starting to, it still feels a lot like work, but it's starting to feel very real. And like we're getting somewhere. And it's really exciting. I mean, we're just smiling every day.

Hope Hodge Seck 2:33

That is so cool. And talk about being a plank holder. So you personally, you've been a member of the U.S. Air Force for 30 years. So what is it like being asked to change military services, when you have identified with the Air Force as an Air Force officer for three decades?

Roger Towberman 2:49

it wasn't for sure, because I'm not a space person by training, right. So I grew up as an intel guy and airborne linguist and a proud airman for like you said, for 30 years. And, and so it wasn't like a no-brainer decision. For me, it was something that, you know, I really thought hard about, I talked to a lot of people about. And as we kind of thought, as things were sort of coming into focus, and this future, this path was starting to really look like, wait a minute, this is going to happen, because to be honest, we didn't think about it at all, until all of a sudden, we were thinking about it like it, just like boom, like this is real, like we've got to kind of work through it. And so, you know, I've talked to great teammates, and friends and mentors, and, and we walked through everything, but maybe more important than anything else -- you know, I learned this many years ago, I was told that as a senior enlisted leader, that the relationship with your boss is always going to be more important than the position. It may sound like a fancy cool job, but if the relationship with your boss isn't great, it's not going to be a great job, it's going to be terrible. And so probably most influential in all of it was that I believe that our chief of Space Operations, General [John] Raymond, that there's not a better boss I could have, there's not a better leader to have leading the Space Force. And so when he asked me, if I would be his teammate, that was the just the easy part of it. It was, man, I get to work with this guy some more and get to be part of this family. All the rest of it, you know, was part of the math as well. But the most important thing was, I get to have this great leader and work for a great human being that cares about other human beings and wants to get this right. And that made it easy. All the rest of it, the opportunity in front of us. It's just really neat. You know, I got the great fortune of talking to Sir Richard Branson last year, and we both spent time as youths working in record stores. So I started out talking about record stores, but he said something, I might get the quote wrong, but he basically said that he thought all great business ideas came out of frustration. And I talked to him about that. And it really. I think, apropos to a lot of things I'm excited about, there were things during my career, I'd be like, man, like, couldn't we do this a little differently? Couldn't, wouldn't I like, and to have this opportunity to kind of toy around with ideas, some of which were born out of frustration, some of which were just born out of brainstorming. Like, wouldn't it be cool to try this. And now we have this opportunity to try some of these things that a larger service just doesn't perhaps have the opportunity to do. That's really neat for me, you know, just the creative type in me, just, man, this is this is fun. A blank canvas is fun to paint on.

Hope Hodge Seck 5:44

Well, talking about that adversarial, in a in a very positive sense, perspective, the existence of Space Force, it's been greeted with skepticism to say the least, from well before it was even started. Many Air Force leaders were not even on board with its creation for various reasons. And I'm sure you've had a lot of opportunity to perfect that perfect Space Force elevator pitch about the why of its existence. So what is it you say these days to explain what Space Force is and convince people that it's necessary and needed as part of the military?

Roger Towberman 6:15

I mean, it's important that we are prepared to talk about it, because unfortunately, it is, it's just not a topic with as broad and general awareness as it could be. And so it is something that we put a little bit of time in and this sort of tagline -- we need a short access to and freedom to maneuver in space -- that's easy to say. It doesn't necessarily create this felt need in the listener to say okay, like, and that's important. And so, you know, I normally start by reminding people that this is a long journey, a two-decade bipartisan journey, these first conversations happened around the turn of the century. And that there were commissions that were, that were asked to give thoughts and that this inevitability was being predicted almost 20 years ago. And so I think that that's important to say, hey, we've been paying attention to this for a long time. And our adversaries have been paying attention to this for a long time, as they've been paying attention to everything. And the reality is that the benign and uncontested and uncongested space environment of the '90s no longer exists. It hasn't existed now for several years. And so I think that as we talked about the Chinese launching anti-satellite technology, as we talk about experiments that we can all read about in the news. And I'm so happy that we are reading about them in the news, it's a little easier to point to this and go, Think about your life, think about what's important to you, when you pick up your cell phone, or when you log on to a computer or when you expect the trains to run on time if you live in Europe, or you know, because this is a coalition conversation as well. If you want that ATM to work, you need a short access to and freedom to maneuver in space. And frankly, there are people that hold that at risk. And they've made very physical and open demonstrations that if they would like to they could shut some of that stuff off. And so I think with those kinds of understandings, I think we start to open the minds of Okay, maybe, maybe we do need to pay attention to this. So that's normally where where I try to focus is, how does this relate to you? It's interesting when we talk to our allies and partners, a lot of times it's it's not the Department of Defense or their military departments that are leading the conversation. It's their commerce departments, it's their transportation departments, it's their treasury, these are people that are keenly aware of the importance in space, in some of these other nations. Sometimes we're a little bit behind, I would say, the public knowledge on this and how important this is to be getting paid or be going shopping or me finding my way to the play I want to see tonight. Those things are beyond convenience at this point, they really are fundamental to our freedom and the way that we live and we've got to make sure that we continue to be able to use them as freely as we do.

Hope Hodge Seck 9:08

You talked about civil even commercial institutions paying a lot more attention in the in the past to space, and your conversations with Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic. What was the feedback that he gave you? And are you staying in touch with him? Is he looking to see how Space Force progresses?

Roger Towberman 9:25

Well, I think he's watching for sure. I think everyone's watching and our commercial partnerships are very important. Me personally, I don't overplay -- I had one quick conversation. I was you know, starstruck and got a selfie and and talked to him for 15 minutes, so I'm not keeping in touch with him. If he happens to listen wants to give me a call; I'd be happy to answer the phone and continue our conversation. But no, I think with all our commercial partners, it really is important that we continue to be interconnected and and that we're talking and that we're open about what's going on. Because everybody has to pay attention to what's happening up there. And so these partnerships are incredibly important. So we've got great teammates across all the different companies. And I think we'll continue to grow those and continue to be interconnected. We had a conversation just yesterday, as we're kind of working through what our values as a service, what will they be? What do we think in some of those conversations, this topic of connectedness and interconnectedness came up? And really, that was one of the ways that we see that the way that we operate may be different than a lot of the military departments that we -- No kidding, we have to have this interoperability and interconnectedness with commercial, maybe more so than anyone ever has in history. So so we're certainly lean on those relationships a lot. I'm not getting any fan mail, though, or private text from billionaires.

Hope Hodge Seck 10:51

Oh, well, what a shame.

Roger Towberman 10:52

Yes.

Hope Hodge Seck 10:55

So, senior leader of Space Force, your job includes helping to create this distinct culture, which you mentioned, trying to come up with values and a unique identity. Even though at this point, you're dealing with a mix of troops from other services, you've got new Academy graduates and civilians, a real jumble of backgrounds. So what is your approach to this challenge? I'd love to kind of get inside one of those meetings, and what culture building resources are you drawing on?

Roger Towberman 11:24

So I think, you know, the good news is, is you would be welcome in those meetings, because one of the really important parts of this whole thing is to make sure that we've got diversity of thought in every conversation. And so we did just have two days where we spent kind of talking about values and about culture. And we had a lieutenant that was an Air Force Academy grad, we had a captain who was a ROTC product, we had two-stripers, we had colonels, we had civilians, we had different specialties, intel and operations, and cyber, we're really tried the best we could to get as many different perspectives and stakeholders as possible. And that's maybe the recurring theme through all of these conversations, I very much believe that that the age where one person has answers is gone. And that now success will be found in the people that can ask questions of the many and not give answers from the one. And so we're really trying to be inclusive, to gather as much input and ideas as we can, we're trying to use different groups of people with every every initiative. So the folks that got together to talk about values will be different than the folks that get together to talk about uniforms, which will be different from the ones that talked about human capital management. Because ideally, I would love in five or 10 years for a large portion of the force to be able to point at something ago, I was personally involved in that decision. And so we're trying to spread the wealth, the best that we can, we're trying to be inclusive, one of the things we talked about is, you know, diversity is the math problem. inclusiveness is a leadership problem. So it's easy to get all the people in the room that look different, or come from different places, we're really trying hard to go the extra step and say, No, we really want to hear from everyone that's in the room. And we need your perspective, not just what you think we want to hear. But I think we're doing pretty well, we seem to be getting good ideas that way, and it takes a little bit longer, it would be easy to just sit around a couple old cats and figure it out. But I like this process. And in many ways, this process of inclusion, this process of empowerment, I think will be more important often than the individual answers that we come up with, because it's reinforcing the real culture that we want, which is we want this innovative, empowered culture, we want people to have courage, we want people to feel connected. So I'd say in general, that's the process. And then we'll bake it from some sort of team that gets together for a few days and, and we'll bake it and then we'll present it to us like a steering group of some kind that will shape it a little bit from a strategic perspective and have a little more senior position. But really, this informed action -- to really know what we heard, and even what we didn't hear for these two days, these last two days, we recorded everything. And we'll run it through a word scrape, if you will, to not just see what was put on slides, but to be able to digitally analyze the conversations we can word cloud the conversations and say right, what the word that they put on this slide was X, but actually in the conversations, Y and Z came up over and over again. So we're trying to be open-minded and innovative and find friends and teammates out there in industry. In the military. We had great facilitators that the Air Force lent us for a couple days on this effort that we just finished. So we're looking for help in every corner. And that's what we'll keep doing. But I think it's good, we'll give it to the steering group, and then the steering group will come up with some ideas, and then we'll put it back up then for sensing, and collect more data and information and opinions, and then we'll make a decision. And at the end of the day, many of these things will come down to, okay, we're making an informed decision. We know it won't be what everyone would have picked, we're not going to get some universal, you know, agreement on this is perfect. So instead, we'll say, What can we craft the narrative around? What can we craft an identity around? What is defensible, not in a we're being attacked way, but what can we explain well, and put into doctrine put into military education, what are we comfortable with that we can say this is us, and maybe you would have done it a different way. But this is where we're at, this is why we're there. This is what it means to us. And if you want to be part of the Space Force, you know, you'll buy in, that's kind of where we're at. And if I'm all over the place, I apologize. But it's, I get really excited, I'm talking about it, because it's fun to watch people get involved and the passion that they have to get an opportunity to be part of their own future is intoxicating.

Hope Hodge Seck 16:10

And as you're talking, it strikes me that there was no way when the Navy was created in 1775 to use a word cloud to kind of generate service values and and mission and what the service was going to stand for. And a lot of that, as I'm thinking about, it comes from battles, experiences, feats of bravery, legends within the service that, you know, kind of represent those core values. And I think it's true of of all the services to some extent. So when you've got this much more technical career field, and you've got these people who may not be deploying as often, and certainly won't be going to new planets anytime soon, that strikes me as a challenge. Is it that much harder to kind of create an ethos when you know, the work of Space Force operators is potentially less less visible?

Roger Towberman 16:59

So I think that, yes, the-less visible part is a challenge in multiple ways. And so one of those ways is, you know, I grew up behind locked doors my whole career. So certainly space isn't the only place where this applies. But yeah, when you can't go home and tell everybody what you did, or they can't look up at the air show and see what you're doing. You have to find your motivation in different ways. You've got to find your path, you know, through different things, there are some really, really cool Gucci things that we do, you know, behind those doors. And so for the people that get to do it, that's a little bit easier, but for sure, it'll present a recruiting challenge and presents an understanding challenge. Maybe most importantly, it can present a determent challenge. And we have to remember that that's our No. 1 priority, right, is to deter conflict. And in order to deter, you've got to be able to reveal what you can do if nobody knows what you can do. Why would they be, you know, why would that enter into their risk calculus? And so we're working through that as a service, and our teammates at U.S. Space Command, working through that as well of kind of general strategy of how do we reveal as much as we can, right, we need to reveal to deter and conceal to win kind of thing. And so how do we work through that? So I think there are definitely challenges with the nature of the job. I think we're okay. I think most of the time when people are happy or sad or frustrated or energized about what they're being asked to do, it's often a matter of expectation management more than it is the the actual thing, right? So you bring up obviously, the physical component of war, people endure incredible suffering, if they're expecting to endure it, they get through it pretty well. We're pretty resilient as human beings. At the same time, if they're not expecting, you know, one pea under 20 mattresses can ruin my evening sleep if I wasn't expected to be there. So I think we need this challenge by being open and honest about what's happening -- that it is an intellectual pursuit is no less important to the war effort. It will require the same keen minds and agility and strategy and defeating the enemy. All of those things that are present in any kind of warfare are present in space. But yeah, I'm not gonna ask you to physically grab a bayonet and charge at someone. And for some people, that's great news, right? Because mentally, they're into it. And they, they love the strategy and they love the concepts and they love the puzzles and they want to figure it out. They're not interested in in charging a hill. So we think there's a niche there for us where we can comfortably rest and find the recruitment that we need, the sessions that we need, and get the retention that we need, because as long as we're being open and honest, and as long as there's legitimate meaning and what people are doing, the physicality of it, I think we can deal with I should say the lack of physicality, we can deal with it.

Hope Seck 19:57

We'll be right back.

Amy Bushatz 20:01

Hey Left of Boom fans. This is Amy Bushatz, executive editor of Military.com. If you're looking to keep up with all the news and information you need to make your military or veteran life successful, we've got the perfect resource. Military.com is packed with need-to-know intel on everything U.S. military, from pay and benefit calculators to the latest from your military service, to deep dives into Pentagon policy. Military.com's reporters and editors are on top of it. Find more at Military.com. Now, back to Left of Boom.

Hope Hodge Seck 20:40

So we've been anxiously awaiting news on one specific piece of information, which is what Space Force professionals will be called. And every leader I've talked to keeps saying a decision is right around the corner. So can you take us inside that process specifically, and who is helping to make that decision and why it has taken so long?

Roger Towberman 21:00

We talk a lot here about the difference between one-way decisions and two-way decisions. And two-way decisions that if we don't like the way this is playing out, we can just reverse it, we're making those a little quicker. We're making those in different locations with different input. The one-way decisions by nature because we feel they're irreversible -- and this is one of those, this is an irreversible decision -- once we decide, we're going to live with it. And so it requires and I think we're obligated to our future, you know, space wallahs, whatever we call them, we're obligated to them to get this right, because we're gonna hang this moniker on them forever, you know, into perpetuity. And so, the specifics of that are, frankly, not all that interesting, but it really is about Okay, have we looked at it from every angle? Is there any way this might go wrong? Is there any way that somebody might this could take on a different identity than we want? Have we really sensed it thoroughly? Have we talked to everyone that we need to have we included other service input? Because we're going to be looking at them to transfer in a couple years? Like, how is all of this play out? And it just, frankly, takes a little bit of time to go through that rigor on these one-way decisions. I don't want to sound like quote unquote, everyone else. But I do think we're close. I think the CSO really, really wants to announce this soon. So I'm hoping that we will find an answer here, certainly by our birthday. But it just, I asked two things. When I talked, especially when I talked to our folks about it, I asked two things, I asked one, for their understanding and patience that this really isn't something we can get wrong. So we're really trying to be deliberate, ask them to be to try to be patient with that. And then the other thing I asked them is, how important this is to you personally? And how comfortable are you with discomfort or with a lack of answers? Because maybe fundamentally, that's a bigger question, right? Like, if I'm going to be in this service that wants to be agile and adaptive and innovative. And I am very uncomfortable with a lack of definitive answers. Maybe I need to figure that out, you know, inside my own head. And so I think there's two really good talking points here that I always sit on when I talk to our folks. That second one, though, it's a fair question, right? Like, if I can't navigate this degree of uncertainty for a couple months, how am I dealing with big uncertainties, and on a day-to-day, you know, mission execution? So I'm smiling through it, I hope we get an answer. And just like everyone else, I'll be honest, it's not something that I wake up every day kind of thinking about, or we've got so many things to do that we're there's an endless list of things that we can grab. So this one, I'm just smiling.

Hope Hodge Seck 24:01

A lot of people in terms of you know, crafting that that unique identity, probably there's a lot of people in the civilian sphere who don't necessarily have anything to do with space, who think of Space Force as maybe an extension of NASA. And a lot of the recruiting advertising for Space Force has kind of seem to lean into that gray area. I mean, it seems like there are astronauts featured. The motto, Semper Supra, which is Always Above, I believe, seems to imply that Space Force professionals will go to space. And then just recently have the the vice chief of Space Operations who seemed to hint that in the distant future, there will be space operators in space. Can you speak to the strategy, the philosophy behind that messaging? And how should we think about this? You know, whether we will see space force professionals in space, how important that is, and why that that kind of seems like you're reaching out to aspirational astronauts when advertising.

Roger Towberman 25:02

I think that's a fair, fair comment. And it's something that we are being trying to be very careful about because we want to capitalize and engender this excitement for space writ large, because it's important to what we do. We certainly need kind of the same sort of STEM-mindedness, if you will, but for human spaceflight, and what what we're doing right now today. And so there's a lot of shared space in that Venn diagram, we have to back to my earlier comment, right, like blown expectations are never good. And so we really have to stay on the right side of that conversation, say, because I think aspirationally -- of course, I would agree with the vice chief, I think someday, yes, I think for sure, not anytime soon. And so no one's gonna come in to the space force and run off now. Are we going to have some folks in astronaut program? I hope so I think that might be a relatively soon thing. But yeah, the rank and file aren't going to be heading into space anytime in the near future. And so how do we focus on the excitement for space, and everything that's there. Certainly, the safety and the successful launch and return of those NASA missions are important to us, right, especially now that once again, for the first time, in many years, we're launching human beings into space from the United States, from soil, in our own country. And so we're, we're certainly part of those missions, we're excited to be teammates. And what we do to care for them is important. We don't want to cross that line and start letting people think, Hey, this is how I'm going to get into NASA. That's just not what's going to happen. So it's fair feedback. I thought we were doing pretty well on where we were on that line. Maybe you think we maybe should be a little more one way or another, so I'll probably, as is my want. I'll probably go look at them all again, and go Okay, wait a minute. Where are we guys? Like, did we, you know, we talked about this. I thought we were all thought we were good? Are we sure we're good? What was our measure of effectiveness? Who are we asking? Are we still good? Are we in the wrong place? That's all fair question. We don't want to be I don't want to have to be in a position to keep promises that I that I didn't think I was making put it that way. And so we all look at it. Thanks for calling me out. It's good. Healthy.

Hope Hodge Seck 27:24

An easier question, hopefully -- so you've got the the academy graduates, you've got these enlisted transfers. And obviously at some point, you're going to have enlistees coming in. What do you foresee a future Space Force bootcamp or the equivalent entry-level enlisted training being like?

Roger Towberman 27:41

So initially, and we actually start this month. In fact, next week, we'll have the first full up folks that were recruited as spaceforce personnel going down to Lackland to basic training. So we're excited about, we've made several kind of bridge adjustments, it was important that from day one, class one, the first group I wanted them, even if they were, the vast majority of their training would be the same -- They needed to know they were different, that was important to us. So there'll be wearing Space Force uniforms, they been issued tablets, so we've issued them all tablets, we've pre-loaded 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? We're excited to offer that to them, and then to follow them through. And then there's several hours, I want to say 21, 22 hours, I'd have to check my notes. But 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 in basic training. Then they'll go to tech school, like they always have. And then from there to look a lot like it did yesterday, for now. That's what we're going to do. For now long term. We're encouraging every kind of idea. So we may move away from that model. there's pros and cons to that we might go where we do everyone at one Center of Excellence and you come in and do basic training and technical training is in one place in one flow, it might be the same instructors that follow you through the whole thing. That might be what we do, we might continue to leverage the Air Force, basic training, we might tweak the course more, we might tweak it less. That's one of the things with these tablets is, we're asking them for feedback. So we hope that in a fast way, in a very agile way that we can respond to feedback and change it I don't see any reason to wait for a Triennial Review. And then, you know, decide what we're going to change. I want to be able to change things. You know, of course, the course month to month as fast as we can change it, let's change it, if we get feedback that something isn't working or something's really working. And so I think a lot of the near-term changes will be more of those types of be more in the way that we approach it and not necessarily -- the actual kind of the syllabus will still look very similar, if you will. But I think long-term we'll do something probably quite a bit different. There are definite challenges, though. And there's some benefit right now to being tucked up into the Air Force infrastructure. There's certainly infrastructure advantages there. But there's also some, everything's connected to everything else. And talent management is never about an individual pieces about this ecosystem. So if we change recruiting, how does that affect basic training? If I change basic training, how might that affect retention four years later, we're trying to have all those conversations holistically. So one of the challenges, it would be really easy to say, Hey, we don't need to do this, we can move all this to another base. So we'll do basic training here on how does that affect recruiting because right now, I can kind of use the larger Air Force machine. So if we have a bad week of recruiting, it doesn't matter. Those numbers are spread across the hundreds and thousands of folks, it's okay, it absorbs it. If I'm all by myself, and I've got 328 people a year to put through training, I might have a different math problem with recruiting. And so we want to make sure that we know how that all affects, I might have a different math problem with tech training. And so we don't want to attack something that's just good for basic military training, we will always want to attack things that are good for the whole ecosystem, that might be a longer answer than you wanted. But that's again, maybe if you learn nothing else today know that we certainly aren't just letting things happen. Nothing's happening because of habit or accident. We're trying so hard to think through things the best we can and come up with the best possible answers. I mean, we're really putting a lot of thought into it doesn't mean we'll get it. All right. I know that we won't get it all right. But every day we try we try hard to not have any blind spots.

Hope Hodge Seck 31:52

What an amazing formative place to be in history. About how many recruits were part of that first class that just headed to Lackland?

Roger Towberman 32:01

So I think there are seven, they go next week. I think they're shipping out of two different MEPS next week, I think Tuesday, and so they'll start and they'll graduate, I think the first week of December, so I hope to be there to give them at least a virtual high five. You know, COVID gets a vote, but I hope to be there and, and thank them as they graduate and get a Space Force coin instead of an airman's coin that we hand all the airman, but they'll get their own, salute at the end, and we're really excited for him. So this first small batch, and then see what happens, learn, iterate again, and see, we'll just keep going.

Hope Hodge Seck 32:38

I've got one more sort of future-facing question, actually, my second to last. And I know we're on the unclass side here. So I appreciate you answering however you're able and whatever is appropriate. I was curious if you could kind of paint a picture -- you talk about space being the sort of militarized domain that we no longer have sort of a monopoly over in any sense. If an act of war was initiated in space, can you give an idea of what the military response might look like for Space Force? Or how to even think about that? So if, for example, a hostile country destroyed a U.S. satellite, how would Space Force be postured to act in response? And what would that look like?

Roger Towberman 33:18

So I think the range of options in space are similar to the range of options we have everywhere else. So there are non-kinetic reversible effects on one end of that spectrum, and there are irreversible kinetic effects. On the other end of that spectrum, what we can all be fairly confident of is that a kinetic irreversible effect in space is a bad day for everyone. It's just not something anybody wants, are we prepared to go -- we will be prepared to do what we need to to ensure unfettered access to and freedom to maneuver in space. But along that spectrum, like every other domain will always try to stay as far to the left of it as we can. And we are ready across that entire spectrum to do what we need to to, to win. And so as you pointed out on this conversation, I think that that's probably enough. But what it's something again, it's something that we're thinking about all the time, we've got really the best folks in the world, putting brainpower against this, there is no doubt that we are today the best in space. And we'll continue to be that and this standing up in the Space Force is really the final piece, I think, to ensure as a nation that we do stay the best in space. So we're excited to be a part of it. And like I think all good warriors, we hoped that we never, right, we hope it never comes to it. And it's our job to be ready when it does and to to work on our deterrence strategy so that hopefully we all live in peace forever. That's what every good warrior wants, I hope. That's what I want.

Hope Hodge Seck 35:06

And finally, I would love -- this is a personal question. What is your favorite piece of space related fiction, whether it be book TV show or movie?

Roger Towberman 35:17

Man, so a favorite. I mean, I grew up a child of the 70s. I remember, I remember standing in line when Empire Strikes Back came out, right, and we're standing the line at the theater. And I remember what a big deal it was. I also remember when we still only had three channels on TV, you know, and those old Star Trek reruns would play every afternoon, and we'd watch them after school. Lately, though, when I've had a couple spare moments, and they kind of come in spurts. But uh, but I've been watching a little bit of this Expanse series. I don't know if you've seen it, but actually, I find it very interesting. Most of the folks smarter than me tell me that the science is pretty good. And that's always what they're worried about. Right? they're okay with fiction. They just want the science to be kind of kind of accurate. So that's maybe my favorite at the moment is I've kind of been watching this and hoping that the heroes all win. That's kind of the softie in me, maybe. But no spoilers. I haven't seen it yet. But I think I'm in Season Three. So I'm working through it.

Hope Hodge Seck 36:26

Well, that's great. I'm absolutely going to check that out on your recommendation. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me. This has been just the coolest conversation.

Roger Towberman 36:36

No, thank you. I can't say how much of an honor it is to have anybody want to talk to me. Most importantly, though, to have people want to talk about space and help us kind of tell this story is so important. And it's such a cool thing to be a part of. And so thank you, for you the part you play. Thanks for being a part of our story. And yeah, we'll do it again. Maybe come back and check it up in a little while. And we'll do it again if you want.

Hope Hodge Seck 37:03

I'd love to; thanks so much.

Thanks once again for joining us at Left of Boom. Do you have a Space Force question we didn't get to in today's episode? Send me an email at podcast@military.com and let me know. And we're once again looking for topics to tackle in future shows. So I'd love to hear your ideas and suggestions and constructive feedback. If you like this interview, please give us some love by subscribing to Left of Boom and leaving a rating so other people can find the show. It's free to do and it really helps us out. And remember that you can find all the news and information about the military community every day at Military.com.

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