Space Force leader highlights service achievements, future

  • Published
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

Chief Master Sgt. of the Space Force John F. Bentivegna highlighted the accomplishments of Guardians during his keynote address, concluding the Space Force Association’s two-day, inaugural Spacepower Conference in Orlando, Florida, on Dec. 13.

Framing his keynote through the lens of Guardians’ journey, Bentivegna provided a glimpse into the intricacies of the USSF's recruitment, training, and the unique character of its members.

“It is vitally important that we get the story out about who we are, what we do as a service and what it means to be a Guardian,” he said.

Bentivegna commended the Space Force's recruitment efforts, underscoring their success in meeting the goals set for bringing in new talent. He highlighted the distinct demographic of individuals joining the Space Force, with an average age of just over 22 years and 8% falling between 28 and 40 years old. Notably, more than 38.9% already possess some college education, showcasing a highly educated pool of recruits.

“That’s the character of the Guardians we are bringing in today,” he said.

Bentivegna emphasized the importance of character and passion in potential Guardians. He expressed confidence in the ability of the USSF to train individuals who embody the heart and character required to join the team. The challenge, as he described it, lies in how to measure and identify those with the right character across diverse communities and backgrounds.

Addressing the unique nature of Space Force training, Bentivegna spoke about the early exposure to the USSF culture during basic military training. He outlined the critical need for recruits to comprehend the significance of the space domain, emphasizing the historical context and the evolving threats that make the USSF's role crucial in national defense.

“Since the Space Force has existed, we have been tracking 44,600 objects in space — that’s a 76% increase in four years since we started,” he emphasized. “That’s the domain we are operating in. That’s how fast it’s evolving. Which is why we have to evolve what we expect out of our Guardians and how we train our Guardians.”

Delving into the specialized training areas, Bentivegna highlighted the USSF's three primary specialties: intel operations, cyber operations, and space operations. He underscored the comprehensive training that each Guardian undergoes, from intelligence analysis to offensive cyber operations and space-related expertise.

The chief recognized some individual Guardians, showcasing their diverse talents and passions. From a cyber operations specialist fluent in Spanish and English to a space operator with a knack for woodworking and photography, their stories aimed to humanize the Guardians and highlight their multifaceted skills.

“We as Space Force, as Guardians, never forget we’re human beings,” Bentivegna said. “We are not resources, we’re not spreadsheets. You see a human being.”

The keynote touched upon the USSF's role in great power competition, aligning with the broader joint fight.

“We are a warfighting service,” he emphasized. “We are arming Guardians with the right training, the right mindset...the men and women who are sitting in ops floors are being presented to service components, and combatant commands to get after great power competition and be part of the incredible joint fight.”

The highest-ranking enlisted Guardian explored the USSF's efforts to manage and reward talent within its ranks. This included discussions on promotions, performance measurement, compensation for responsibilities, and initiatives like the Supra Coder program, which creates homegrown coding capabilities for Guardians.

 Bentivegna also called for the continuous amplification of the Guardian Spirit, urging Guardians to carry the sense of pride and camaraderie experienced at events like the first-ever Guardian Arena, which was held at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla., Dec. 10-11.  
Guardian Arena is designed to challenge Guardians in the skills of problem-solving, knowledge, and physical strength, to improve camaraderie, instilling esprit de corps, and providing an opportunity to operationalize the Guardian Ideal and Guardian Spirit in a healthy competition. 
“Amplifying the Guardian Spirit cannot happen once a year. It doesn’t stop on the beaches of Cape Canaveral,” Bentivegna said. “You have to bring that back to your organizations. The pride and joy you felt ... has to be the pride and joy you have every single day you walk into the office. That is amplifying the Guardian Spirit.” 
He concluded by urging Guardians to share their experiences and the service's vision with industry partners, communities, Congress, and the American people. 
“At the end of the day, that Guardian experience in addition to all the training, all the investment, all the opportunities in the talent management is what can allow us a service to successfully compete in competitive endurance,” he said. “We’ve got to keep the talent, we have to stay strong together. That’s what it’s about.”