Engage! Space Force rolls out its new ranks

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Sorry, Captain Kirk. When it comes to rank structure, the military’s newest service boldly went somewhere else.

The Space Force on Friday unveiled a rank structure for its officer and enlisted personnel that mostly matches the Air Force. In doing so, the new branch went against the will of Rep. Dan Crenshaw and legendary Star Trek actor William Shatner, who urged the branch to adopt the same rank structure as the Navy.

In a memo dated Friday to all guardians — that is, all members of the Space Force — the service laid out the new structure. The news was first reported by Air Force Magazine.

The details: On the enlisted side, the ranks track closely with the Air Force’s structure. The exception comes in the first four ranks, which will be called Specialist 1, Specialist 2, Specialist 3 and Specialist 4.

The rest are the same: sergeant, technical sergeant, master sergeant, etc.

On the officer side, the ranks are identical to those found in the Air Force, Army and Marine Corps, starting at second lieutenant and going all the way up to general.

In going with “specialist” rather than “airman,” the service follows through with Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond’s pledge to have a gender-neutral rank structure that does not include the word man.

On Capitol Hill: Last year, the House approved Crenshaw’s language in the annual defense policy bill requiring the service to use Navy ranks, such as seaman, petty officer, ensign and admiral. Some see the Space Force’s mission of defending machinery and commerce in the vastness of space as analogous to the Navy’s mission of protecting the high seas.

Others wanted the service, which essentially broke off from the Air Force in 2019, to establish its own culture and identity separate from its parent service, and saw different ranks as one way to do this.

Take me to your leader: The effort had some high-profile backers. Shatner beamed himself into the debate last year when he penned an op-ed in August pushing for the service to adopt Navy ranks, citing a variety of space icons in pop culture.

But the language was stripped out of the final compromise bill, leaving the decision up to the Space Force.

What’s next: The ranks are just the latest move for the service, which over the past year has adopted a logo, flag and motto. Other items on their list include an official song and dress uniforms.

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