Space Force Troops Finally Have A Name: Guardians

The fledgling U.S. Space Force has announced the name by which its members will be called: Guardians. This is one of the last remaining organizational changes for America’s newest branch to make to give it a distinct from its parent, the U.S. Air Force. The service already has its own unique unit designations, insignias and uniform devices, as well as a new motto, Semper Supra, or Always Above.

Vice President Mike Pence announced the Guardians moniker at a gathering at the White House on Dec. 18, 2020, with Space Force head General John Raymond, Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett, and Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller also in attendance. This comes just days before the first anniversary of the service’s founding on Dec. 20 of last year. The Space Force’s Guardians will now join the U.S. Army’s Soldiers, the U.S. Navy’s Sailors, the U.S. Air Force’s Airmen, and, well, the U.S. Marine Corps’ Marines.

President Donald Trump, at right, gestures to the Space Force’s official flag during its unveiling at the White House in May 2020., AP

“Today, after a yearlong process that produced hundreds of submissions and research involving space professionals and members of the general public, we can finally share with you the name by which we will be known: Guardians,” a subsequent post from the Space Force’s official Twitter account read. “The name Guardians connects our proud heritage and culture to the important mission we execute 24/7, protecting the people and interest of the U.S. and its allies.”

“Guardians is a name with a long history in space operations, tracing back to the original command motto of Air Force Space Command in 1983, ‘Guardians of the High Frontier,'” according to the Space Force. Air Force Space Command was transferred to the new service after its creation in 2019.

Despite the stated history and heritage behind the name, “guardians,” together with Space Force’s mission, have already led to numerous comparisons to the Guardians of the Galaxy from the Marvel comics universe. The superhero ensemble has had two movies in Marvel’s cinematic universe and a third is on the way, scheduled for release in 2023. Its members have also since appeared in other Marvel films.

This is hardly the first time the general public has made references to popular media when talking about the Space Force. As Walter Shaub, former Director of the Office of Government Ethics, noted on Twitter after the name’s announcement, there have already been a number of Star Trek references when it comes to the Space Force, generally related to its heavy use of delta symbols in its official insignias and other devices, which are very visually reminiscent of the Starfleet Command logo from that fictional universe. 

A new Space Force Space Staff uniform badge with a prominent delta motif that was unveiled earlier in December 2020., Space Force

With the Guardian’s name in hand, one of the few remaining decisions Space Force has to make with regards to how to distinguish itself from the Air Force, as well as the other service, is the matter of ranks. A provision had been included in earlier versions of the annual defense policy bill, or National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), for the 2021 Fiscal Year that demanded that Space Force use naval ranks. 

William Shatner, the first actor to play Star Trek’s iconic Captain Kirk, went so far as to write an op-ed for Military Times earlier this year promoting that idea. “There was no Colonel Kirk,” he wrote.

However, that provision has since been dropped. If the current version of the Fiscal Year 2021 NDAA becomes law, Space Force will be free to continue its ongoing process to select a rank structure.

So, while we still don’t know what the names for their different ranks might look like in the future, we do know now that members of the Space Force have officially become Guardians.

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Joseph Trevithick Avatar

Joseph Trevithick

Deputy Editor

Joseph has been a member of The War Zone team since early 2017. Prior to that, he was an Associate Editor at War Is Boring, and his byline has appeared in other publications, including Small Arms Review, Small Arms Defense Journal, Reuters, We Are the Mighty, and Task & Purpose.