Last week the United States Space Force announced that U.S. Air Force active duty members can volunteer to officially transfer to the new service beginning on May 1. The sixth and newest military service was officially signed into existence on December 20, 2019, and is currently operating with the aid of some 16,000 airmen and civilian employees detailed on a temporary basis from what was formerly the Air Force Space Command.

Earlier in April, the Department of the Air Force identified 23 U.S. Air Force units that have space-related missions that could be transferred to the Space Force. Both the USAF and Space Force are organized as military service branches within the Department of the Air Force – similar to how the United States Navy and United States Marines Corps are part of the Department of the Navy.

“This is an historic time to be in the space business and I could not be more excited to extend the opportunity to our active duty Air Force members to officially transfer into the Space Force,” said Gen. Jay Raymond, U.S. Space Force Chief of Space Operations and U.S. Space Command Commander. “We have the unique opportunity to create a new service; your energy, passion and expertise will be critical to our success.”

The Space Force is charged with organizing, training and equipping the personnel who will execute a variety of space missions, and to deter aggression in, from and to space.

Transfer Time

For those who were not in the 23 units, it is still possible to apply for transfer during the month of May. This includes active duty Air Force officers and enlisted members as well as civilian employees who previously worked for the Air Force Space Command (AFSC).  This applies to those in existing space careers and certain other jobs.

The ability to make the transfer has been seen as a great opportunity for many airmen who work in space-related jobs.

“The choice to transfer into the Space Force will be a personal decision for each individual, just as it was for me,” said Chief Master Sgt. Roger A. Towberman, U.S. Space Force senior enlisted advisor. “Each of us volunteered to serve, now we ask for volunteers to help build a new force that is tailor-made and laser-focused on joint warfighting and the space domain.”

Airmen and civilian employees who are eligible to apply for the first round of transfers include those in the following fields:

  • Space operations (13S)
  • Space systems operations (1C6)
  • Intelligence (14N)
  • Cyberspace operations (17X)
  • Developmental engineer (62E)
  • Acquisition manager (63A)
  • Operations intelligence (1N0)
  • Geospatial intelligence (1N1)
  • Signals intelligence (1N2)
  • Fusion analyst (1N4)
  • Targeting analyst (1N8)
  • Cyberspace support (3D0)
  • Client systems (3D1)

Those requesting transfers will more than likely be accepted into the Space Force, and for those in organic space career fields (13S and 1C6), the transfers are set to begin September 1. Those airmen in career fields related to space can decline a transfer to Space Force and will work with their chain of command to examine other options that could include applying for or retraining into another Air Force specialty, or applying to cross flow into the Guard or Reserve. Applying for separation or retirement may be an option if the individual is eligible.

The transition period is expected to be completed by sometime in 2022.

For the common AFSCs only a limited number of billets will be available, so Air Force and the Space Force leaders are now developing a board process to select volunteers for transfer based on mission needs and career sustainment. Since the boarding and selection process will take additional time, transfers for personnel with common AFSCs are expected to begin Feb. 1, 2021.

Transfer From Other Branches

It will be possible to transfer to the Space Force from the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps as well as from the Air Force National Guard and Reserve, but those service members will have to wait – likely at least until next year at the earliest.

“The timeframe for Army/Navy space requirements to move to the Space Force remains in fiscal 2022-2023,” Space Force spokeswoman Lynn Kirby said April 23 as reported by AirForceMag.com.

“Although legal provisions exist for other services to transfer to the Space Force, the current focus is on transferring … over 6,000 [Active-duty] Airmen from the Air Force to the Space Force by mid-fiscal 2021,” added Kirby. “We understand there is excitement for Space Force across all services right now. Space Force will release further details for a limited inter-service transfer program for other sister services for fiscal 2021.”

A report on human capital management in the Space Force is due to Congress this coming June. In February Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett delivered to Congress the first comprehensive proposal for how the Space Force will be organized as a separate military branch under the Department of the Air Force.

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Peter Suciu is a freelance writer who covers business technology and cyber security. He currently lives in Michigan and can be reached at petersuciu@gmail.com.