Space Force unveils its service flag at White House ceremony
By COREY DICKSTEIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 15, 2020
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force unveiled its service flag on Friday, when top Pentagon officials presented President Donald Trump with the sixth military branch’s official colors during a private Oval Office ceremony marking Armed Forces Day.
In photos tweeted out by a Reuters photographer, Trump is seen smiling as the Space Force’s senior enlisted leader, Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman, holds up the new flag representing the military service charged with carrying out the Pentagon’s space-based operations. The new service was officially stood up in December when the president — who championed the force’s cause even as some Pentagon leaders initially pushed back on it necessity — signed a law mandating its creation.
The brief ceremony was open only to the daily White House press pool, which includes a reporter and news photographer who share details of the event with other media members. The pool photographer, Steve Holland with the Reuters news agency, shared the photo from inside the Oval Office, revealing the black flag for the new service — the first new military branch in 72 years.
Among people attending the ceremony were the Space Force’s top officer Gen. Jay Raymond, Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett, Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who said the flag reveal was “a very historic moment,” according to a pool report.
Raymond, the chief of space operations, told Trump that the prominent star design on the black and platinum-colored flag represented the North Star, which “signifies our core value, our guiding light.”
The Space Force’s flag was designed to model the service’s official seal, which Trump unveiled himself in a tweet in January, the White House said. Like that seal, the flag features a silver ‘delta symbol’ over a dark background featuring a globe with a design showing an object orbiting it and a series of stars, the North Star most prominently. The words “United States Space Force” are featured below the symbol as are the Roman Numerals MMXIX, representing the year 2019.
Five months after its creation, the Space Force is finally growing. Last month, the service increased from just two official members — Raymond and Towberman — to 88, when it added 86 second lieutenants who commissioned into the branch from the Air Force Academy.
Officials expect to begin bringing more new members into the Space Force in September, when it intends to start transferring in space operators now serving in the Air Force. More than 2,000 airmen submitted applications in recent weeks to transfer into the new service, Lynn Kirby, a Space Force spokeswoman, said Friday.
Officials have said they expect to begin transferring in some space-focused troops from other military services perhaps beginning in 2021. The service is expected to grow to some 16,000 service members in the coming years.
Despite its small size, the Space Force is conducting critical missions for the military. The service has nearly 20,000 airmen and Defense Department civilian employees temporarily assigned to its force to conduct a variety of missions ranging from monitoring early warning systems that track potential threats to the U.S. homeland to ensuring the safety of American satellites.
On Saturday, the Space Force is set to conduct a launch of the Air Force’s secretive X-37B space plane into orbit for a series of missions, including scientific research projects.
Last week, the service released its first recruiting video.
Pentagon officials said the service is still working on other details for the new service, including designing its unique dress uniforms, a service anthem and even deciding what to call its members and what their rank insignia will look like.
Officials said they have seen a lot of interest in the new service in its early months.
“There is no more critical time or exciting time to be in our business,” Raymond said May 6. “If you are interested in serving, we are interested in having you.”