REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Although numerous U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command Soldiers have earned various skill identifiers, some command Soldiers now have a badge that is out of this world.
On March 19, the most recent six Soldiers of USASMDC/ARSTRAT were awarded the Army Space Badge during a ceremony at the command's Redstone Arsenal, Ala., headquarters.
"Earning the Army Space Badge today is not an end, it's a beginning," said Col. Tom James, deputy director, Future Warfare Center, SMDC. "Officers, NCOs and Soldiers will see your badge, and ask you what it means and why it is important. You have to be ready to explain that meaning in ways that quickly and easily provide the importance of integrating satellite capabilities in support of Army operations.
"This only comes from staying sharp on your space knowledge and skills," he added. "You have to continue learning and expanding that knowledge base to be able to educate others. That is the burden that comes with the prestige of the Space Badge. Embrace it."
The Space Badge can be awarded to active Army, Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers who successfully complete appropriate space-related training and attain the required Army space cadre experience. There are three levels of the Space Badge: basic, senior and master.
The required space cadre experience for active duty Soldiers is: Basic Space Badge, 12 months; Senior Space Badge, 48 months; and Master Space Badge, 84 months, and for Reserve and National Guard Soldiers: Basic Space Badge, 24 months; Senior Space Badge, 60 months; and Master Space Badge, 96 months.
The Space Badge is considered a Group 4 badge, and Soldiers can wear their Space Badge with Group 3 badges such as the Aviator Badge.
"The space badge is the newest badge in the Army inventory," said Maj. Michael G. Meskunas, who earned the Basic Space Badge. "You can actually say it is unique. It is something Soldiers aspire for nowadays. For anyone working in the space arena, it is a badge of acceptance, and I am glad to be a part of this community."
Formerly called the Air Force Space Badge, the term "Air Force" was dropped from the name because Army and Air Force personnel are now eligible, and the badge is now called the Space Badge.
A paragraph pertaining to the Space Badge will appear in the next update to Army Regulation 600-8-22, Military Awards.
"I feel honored, valued and relevant earning the Master Space Badge, not only from an Army perspective but also in the DoD, joint, governmental and civilian sectors as well. This includes all levels whether tactical, operational or strategic," said Maj. Christopher L. Fairley, who received the Master Space Badge. "It feels very rewarding. I, like most Soldiers in the Army, have earned several badges and tabs that took some level of effort to obtain.
"What makes the Master Space Badge unique is that it was not earned in 10 days, three weeks, or even several months; it took more than seven years of proving myself in the toughest assignments and challenging space courses," he added.
Fairley spoke of the importance of space and what it means to the Army, and how space Soldiers continue to grow in importance.
"People need to know we bring a space perspective to Army units or the organizations we support," Fairley said. "Most Soldiers who wear the Space Badge come from different career backgrounds. We have served as platoon leaders, company commanders and staffs in combat, which brings an instant credibility to the organization we support. Space warriors have the talent and experience to translate 'space stuff' to those who need it, and explain why it is important in a way that is not 'rocket science.'
"When I first started this 'space stuff' in the quest for my first Space Badge, if you had asked me about orbital mechanics, I would have responded with 'Who is our unit orbital mechanic guy, and what does he do" he added. "We, as space warriors, must evolve to someone who can translate data and information to knowledge about space. The goal is to be the PhD level at the end of your Army career, and this takes time."
As the Army specified proponent for space, the commander of SMDC was assigned the mission to develop and track a cadre comprising space-qualified professional military and civilian personnel.
The Army space cadre was created to meet this requirement and consists of more than 2,300 Soldier and civilian billets spread throughout Army and joint organizations.
There are three categories of Army space personnel from all components: FA40 (Space Operations Officers), Non-FA40 Soldiers, and Department of the Army civilians.
To help facilitate the identification and tracking of space cadre Soldiers, the Department of the Army G-1 has approved the revision and expansion of the 3Y skill identifier. The 3Y identifier is called "Space Enabler" and applies to officers (except FA40s), warrant officers and enlisted Soldiers.
"This is one of the most prestigious badges the Army has," said Staff Sgt. John R. Schaefer, who received the Basic Space Badge. "I try to be a leader, and never turn down an opportunity to improve myself. This is a win-win because with this badge, I get to show my fellow Soldiers that I am continuing to better myself."
He talked about how it feels to be a member of a select group of Soldiers who work on space-based issues for the Army and defend the "high ground."
"Every Soldier who wears this badge is a member of a distinguished club," Schaefer said. "I am honored to be a part of the Army's space cadre and I will wear the Space Badge with pride."
The following Soldiers earned basic, senior and master Space Badges from January to March: Company C, 53rd Signal Battalion's 1st Lt. Stephen I. Roy, Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy M. Marsac, Staff Sgt. Raymond T. Flores, Spc. Caleb M. Burgan, Spc. Michael D. Doherty, Spc. Samara N. Esquibel, Spc. Kendle M. Kelley, Spc. Matthew N. Lindwall, Pfc. Robert P. O'Leary, and Pfc. Anthony M. Robinson; Company D, 53rd Signal Battalion's Staff Sgt. Mark Armstrong, Spc. Theodosis Efthimiadis, Spc. Jennifer Addison, Spc. Nicholas Lang, and Spc. Dexter Stewart; Company E, 53rd Signal Battalion's Spc. Ryan Adams, Spc. David Carnicom, Spc. Terrence Cunningham, Spc. Billy Mullins, Spc. Paul Phan, Spc. Tyler Read, Spc. Stuart St. John, Spc. Jeffery Threatt, Spc. Justin Ulloa, Spc. Joshua Weber, Pfc. Daniel Dillard, Pfc. Manuel Mapes and Pfc. Thomasina Walker; 1st Space Battalion's Staff Sgt. Dave Thomas; Joint Tactical Ground Station-Korea, 1st Space Company's Sgt. Brian Hester and Pvt. Darius Crump; and SMDC Huntsville's Lt. Col. Kerry G. Clements, Fairley, Maj. Christopher D. Marchetti, Meskunas, Sgt. 1st Class Catherine A. Dulay, and Schaefer.