Space Force May Add More Technical Sergeant Ranks, Top NCO Says

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Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond administers the oath of enlistment.
Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond administers the oath of enlistment to 73 officer and enlisted space professionals selected to transfer into the U.S. Space Force stationed at Peterson-Schriever Garrison, Sept. 15, 2020. (U.S. Air Force/ Airman 1st Class Alexus Wilcox)

The Space Force is considering adding additional technical sergeant ranks -- similar to its junior enlisted specialist ranks -- so future Guardians have more promotion opportunities while maintaining their specialty, the top enlisted leader for the service said Thursday.

During a virtual session of the annual Air Force Association's Aerospace Warfare Symposium, Chief Master Sergeant of the Space Force Roger Towberman told audiences that the service is exploring ways to accommodate promotions should it decide to pursue a technical track for enlisted members.

"We want technical experts; this is the definitive rank -- technical sergeant. We've left the door open if we decide to go with technical tracks," he said.

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The service announced last month that junior enlisted members between E-1 and E-4 will be called specialists 1-4. E-5s will be sergeants, followed by technical sergeants at E-6. Space Force officer ranks -- second lieutenant to general -- will remain the same as those in the Air Force.

The service is considering adding technical sergeant 2, 3 and 4 ranks. That would mean a "Tech Sgt. 2" would be level with a master sergeant but without the associated management roles, a Space Force spokeswoman explained to Military.com.

"Perhaps if I want to kind of just spend my life on an ops floor, and that's what I'm really into, and I'm really, really good at it, and I want to stay really good at it, and I don't want to do some other things, but I want to stick around, and I want to be invested in it more, then maybe we go technical sergeant -- one, two, and we step up from there," Towberman said. "So we've left the door open for those things."

The spokeswoman said there is no timeline on a decision, and rank changes are very much hypothetical at this time.

Towberman said the Space Force expects to roll out trial rank insignias for its members next month, and will collect feedback on their designs.

What It Means to Be a Guardian

Then-Vice President Mike Pence announced during a White House ceremony in December that Space Force members would be called Guardians. Space enthusiasts and military members were quick to point out that the name evokes the Marvel Comics' "Guardians of the Galaxy" film franchise about a motley crew of superheroes in space. Others recalled that the term Guardians also temporarily applied to the Coast Guard years ago.

Speaking about the name, and the ridicule still often surrounding it, Towberman said it not only evokes military heritage, but gives the service a clean slate to build on.

"Maybe something I love even more is that we don't know what 'Guardian' is going to mean tomorrow; this is in the hands of the culture that we're building," he said during the discussion.

In many ways, it can mean "whatever we want it to mean," Towberman said.

"It's the headquarters' job to set the condition for success, [but] it's [a Guardian's] job to grow within those conditions and be the culture, and give meaning to a very powerful word with a great history, with great legacy, the future of that word, and what it really means to be a Guardian ... [a] powerful word ... that [asks], 'What will it mean tomorrow?'"

It's something space members should consider as "we help to unleash the greatness in all of the folks that are raising their hand to join the team," he said.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @oriana0214.

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