U.S. Space Force Brig. Gen. Timothy A. Sejba, STARCOM commander, and U.S. Space Force Chief Master Sgt. James Seballes, STARCOM senior enlisted leader, addressed attendees at the Air & Space Forces Association’s 2023 Air, Space & Cyber Conference during featured panel discussions.
Sejba spoke to Guardians and Airmen on the critical subject of building the warfighting mindset, noting that while the Space Force is relatively new, the space mission has enabled warfighters of every recent military campaign.
“Even though the Space Force is only four years old, we’ve built the warfighting mindset for almost 40 years,” said Sejba. “What’s changed is that we are now focused on a threat. That threat is driving everything that we do in the Space Force to ensure we continue the support that we have for our joint warfighters, but also maintaining the space superiority that we’ve enjoyed for so many years.”
Sejba added that STARCOM’s mission ensures the warfighting mindset is ingrained into every Guardian.
“We have everything from training, to doctrine, to education, to test and evaluation,” Sejba said. “All those pieces come together to ensure Guardians have the warfighter mindset that we need today and going forward into the future.”
One way the command will realize the warfighting mindset will be by operationalizing its test and training infrastructure, aimed to enable realistic training that Guardians will face when fighting a future foe, said Sejba.
“That’s a huge undertaking as we move forward,” Sejba said. “One that’s absolutely critical for us is to be able to train like we potentially have to fight in the future. I think that exists in other domains and other services, but it’s one that we just haven’t necessarily had to put into place for space in the past.”
Ruthless prioritization and keeping perspective on the mission helps Guardians keep focus on warfighting, said Sejba.
“When you’re a force of 14,000 strong, it’s sometimes daunting to think about all the things you have ahead,” Sejba said. “At times, though, we have to also look back … at all of the things you’ve accomplished over the last three and a half years as Guardians of a new service. That then requires you looking forward at the threat and understanding what you must get after. We’re going to have to have ruthless prioritization to make sure we go after the most important things.”
Separately, Seballes covered “Amplifying the Guardian Spirit,” the Space Force’s second line of effort.
This concept is the excitement, the hope, and the opportunities that Guardians brought when they decided to join the Space Force, said Seballes.
“That energy is the Guardian Spirit,” said Seballes. “We come back on all the promises that we made to each one of the Guardians … and we do our best—no matter where we sit—to try and fulfill that promise.”
Unique Space Force traditions, such as a special patching ceremony for new Guardians graduating Basic Military Training, helps amplify the Guardian Spirit, said Seballes. It is distinctly unique because it was conceived not from leadership, but by grass-roots efforts from Guardians themselves.
“That patching ceremony didn’t come from the top,” said Seballes. “That was actually the team that was planning and building the curriculum that came together. That was not just enlisted Guardians, that was also civilian and officer Guardians that helped come up with the idea.”
There are things that make the Guardian patching ceremony unique from other armed services traditions. Experienced Guardians personally wear each patch that is gifted, and write a personal note or card to accompany each patch. The ceremony was such a hit at Space Force BMT that the service has adopted it for new officers at the Air Force Academy and at Officer Training School.
“When they get the patch at graduation, they also get the card,” said Seballes. “And it’s a special note that comes from anyone from the CSO on down. I’ve had the privilege of being at two of these ceremonies. When we see that Guardian with the patch that they earned, and the exuberation, feeling like they are now part of the team … nothing really beats that at all.”
Delegation and empowerment down to all levels is key to amplifying the Guardian Spirit, Seballes said.
“We have to look in and delegate down and allow these members wherever they are at—officers, enlisted, or civilian—to really get the opportunity to use their voice to thrive, to bring ideas to the table that maybe you don’t think of,” said Seballes. “To really to embrace that culture.”
Delegation and empowerment doesn’t just amplify Guardian Spirit, it helps build the warfighting mindset, added Sejba.
“Delegation down—empowerment—is absolutely foundational to building the warfighting mindset,” said Sejba. “We need every Guardian—officer, enlisted, civilian—focused on what they can do, and taking the lead, whenever they can.”