From Combat Infantryman Badges, "Jump Wings" and Ranger Tabs, Soldiers have been able to show the world they are trained professionals. With the addition of the Army's newest badge, Soldiers can now show they are trained to control the high ground.
On Feb. 2, the Army chief of staff approved the establishment of the Space Badge. The Space Badge is 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 Soldier (wearing the Space Badge) is a valued member of the Army space cadre community who speaks from a position of knowledge and experience," said Robert Kyniston, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command. "Soldiers wearing the Space Badge are also recognized as knowledgeable, contributing members of the joint space community by other services."
For active duty Soldiers, the Basic Space Badge is awarded after 12 months, the Senior Space Badge is awarded after 48 months and the Master Space Badge is awarded after 84 months. For Reserve and National Guard Soldiers, the Basic Space Badge is awarded after 24 months, the Senior Space Badge is awarded after 60 months and the Master Space Badge is awarded after 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.
"To me the Space Badge is used to indicate simply a level of training and experience and hence a way of measuring ourselves as Army space cadre with our Air Force counterparts (since the Space Badge was specifically an Air Force badge)," said Lt. Col. Brian T. Soldon, U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll and Reagan Test Site deputy commander (CONUS), Kwajalein Support director and RTS space operation director, who received his Master Space Badge on Sept. 23, 2009.
"As my career progressed and with the recent approval of the Space Badge as an Army award as well, the Space Badge has taken on additional meaning for me as an indication of professionalism and camaraderie," he added.
Formerly called the Air Force Space Badge, the term "Air Force" was dropped from the name, 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.
Air Force Space Command developed and fielded the Air Force Space Badge in November 2005 to represent and unify the credentialed space professional or space cadre community. With AFSPC and Army chief of staff approval, the Army began awarding the badge to Army space cadre Soldiers in 2006. Since then, 1,425 badges have been awarded to 1,228 Soldiers.
"Since the Army is one of the largest users of space-based capabilities, and as one of a very small group of Army Master Badge wearers, I feel directly responsible and accountable to our Soldiers participating in our overseas (and CONUS) contingency ops to ensure (both short term and long term) the provision of critical space-based and space-enabled Warfighter capabilities," Soldon said. "We live in dynamic and exciting times, and as the Army transforms and becomes more net-centric and expeditionary, the role for Army space professionals can only increase in scope and importance - regardless of whether our efforts are primarily 'behind the scenes' or become more obvious to the Army at large, I am personally very proud to be a member of what I consider to be an elite group of Master Space Badge wearing space professionals.
"Every day I get up and put my uniform on, I am reminded (by the badge) that I owe it to those I serve with to challenge myself to (add value) to the goals and objectives of the Warfighter on that, and every, given day," he added.
The Secretary of Defense directed each service to develop a "cadre of space-qualified professionals comprised of military and civilian personnel in sufficient quantities to represent their military service and agency's interests in space requirements, acquisition and operations."
As the Army specified proponent for space, the commander of USASMDC/ARSTRAT was assigned the mission to develop and track a cadre of space-qualified professionals comprised of 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.
"3Y tells the Army that you are a trained and ready Soldier who is an expert in space," said Sgt. 1st Class Gabriel A. Cardenas, USASMDC/ARSTRAT Future Warfare Center Directorate of Training and Doctrine noncommissioned officer in charge. "The Army has space Soldiers, regardless of their rank and (Military Occupational Specialty,) who are able to articulate what needs to be done in current and future operations and plans."
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.
"In one word, it is dynamic," Cardenas said. "But trying to summarize what my space brigade Soldiers do in a feeling is impossible. I can tell you that I am inspired each day with what our Soldiers are providing to the Warfighter from commercial imagery to space situational awareness.
"These products are allowing commanders to make decisions that will save lives, protect borders, and destroy the enemy," he added.
Cardenas also told why he chose to follow the challenging career path of being a "Space Soldier."
"The Army stands for everything that is America," he said. "I chose my career in the Army but the path that got me where I am today was because of the leaders who I worked for. No matter what my job was I did it confidently and to the best of my abilities. My leadership was optimistic of my potential and guided me to this career path in space.
"I feel enthusiastic, bold, daring, challenged and confident and the Space Badge is a symbol to the entire Army that says: 'I will be your compass and go side-by-side with you into the fight to win and to make sure you come home,'" Cardenas added.