SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. –
The Space Force, working with the Army, Navy and Marine Corps, selected 50 active-duty volunteers from those services to transfer into the Space Force beginning this month. This initial group of Soldiers, Sailors and Marines will test out the integration efforts established by the services to pave the way for a larger group of volunteers transferring in fiscal year 2022.
Among the first 50 were two Joint Task Force-Space Defense Sailors: Petty Officer 1st Class Samantha Stafford, an information systems technician from Weirton, West Virginia, and Petty Officer 1st Class Lindsey Conley, a target analyst from Glastonbury, Connecticut.
“After coming to this command I fell in love with the space community,” Stafford said. “When I learned they were allowing inter-service transfers, I knew in my heart that I had to do it.”
Fellow "Space Trooper" — JTF-SD leaders' reference for their collective force — Conley was also unexpectedly inspired to seek transfer.
“I was not about space when I first got here,” Conley said. “I missed talking about submarines. But everything about space is unknown, every day here it’s history in the making.”
The Space Force has changed the horizon for at least one Sailor.
“I love the Navy," said Stafford, who has served nine years. "I accomplished all of the goals I set out to here. The Space Force has widened the aperture and I’m looking forward to new goals and accomplishing them as a Guardian.”
These transfers are the latest in a series of collaborative efforts amongst the Space Force, Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps since the creation of the new service in December of 2019. More than 3,700 officers and enlisted members from the Army, Navy and Marine Corps submitted transfer applications in March to compete for this transfer opportunity.
“We are overwhelmed by the number of applicants, and the outpouring of support our sister services have provided as we’ve partnered together to design the Space Force,” said Space Force Gen. David "DT" Thompson, vice chief of Space Operations. “We are excited to have Guardians from these services join more than 5,200 Air Force transfers, and look forward to the new experience, perspective and culture they will bring as we continue to build the Space Force.”
In addition to the 50 selected as part of the group to “beta test” the transfer process, about 350 more will be selected for transfer in July. Each will be matched to positions in specific Space Force specialties: space operations, intelligence, cyber, engineering and acquisition. Service members who previously applied do not need to take any action to be considered in this next selection board. Those additional selections will be announced in the coming months.
This inter-service transfer program is separate from a second effort to identify space missions and units from the other services to realign to the Space Force in fiscal years 2022 and 2023. Several hundred members currently assigned to those units will also be offered an opportunity to volunteer to transfer to the Space Force.
“The competition for selection has been tough," said Patricia Mulcahy, Space Force chief human capital officer. "So many of the applicants are top performers with experiences and skillsets well-suited for the Space Force. With help from our sister services, we had the tough job of reviewing the applications to select the 50 candidates for this first transfer opportunity, and will use a similar process for the remainder.”
Stafford said she had help during the selection process.
“I am so grateful to Master Sgt. Stephen Compton, Master Sgt. Brianna Fields, Chief Master Sgt. Jacob Simmons, Lt. Col. Stephen Bichler and all of the [communications directorate],” she said. “They all had my back and said this is definitely for me and supported me every step of the way.”
Stafford's selection also led to a touching family moment.
“My family is super excited," she said. "My dad cried tears of joy when I told him."
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs contributed to this article.