VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE -- Before hitting the ground in an operational setting, newly selected United States Space Force Space Operator officers arrive at Vandenberg Air Force Base, where they will attend Officer Undergraduate Space Training at the 533rd Training Squadron.
Currently, the first batch of Space Force officers are at the school house awaiting the beginning of their careers, in the brand new Space Force.
On Dec. 20, 2019, the U.S. Space Force was created and shortly after, a fresh batch of U.S. Air Force Academy graduates was selected to be the first officers to commission directly into the new military branch.
Originally, these students assumed they would be working under Air Force Space Command, as many of the Airmen had prior to the creation of the U.S. Space Force. Much to their surprise, they would get the opportunity to break ground in a new military branch and take part in the launch and growth of the USSF.
Five of the commissioned officers shared their story of joining the U.S. Space Force.
2nd Lt. Brown
2nd Lt. LeSean Brown, 533rd TRS trainee, comes from a background of military service as both his parents served in the U.S. Army. One of his sisters graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point while the other is in the Army Reserves.
While at the U.S. Air Force Academy, he was a member of the U.S. Air Force Academy Men’s Basketball Team and studied systems engineering. Academics and athletics took up a lot of Brown’s time.
According to Brown, he never imagined he would become a member of the U.S. Space Force, let alone a Space Operator, but he has been optimistic about the opportunity and is ready to do great things.
“I believe that being a Space Force officer will set me on the right path toward accomplishing my career goal of making an impact on others, being a mentor and role model, and making organizations better,” said Brown. “I am ready to be a trailblazer and aid the Space Force in its development. There may be some growing pains, but I think something really unique and special is going to come of it.”
According to Brown, he recognizes the importance of work-life balance and continues playing basketball when he can find friends to play with. When that is not an option, he goes to the beach to relax and soak up some sun.
2nd Lt. Lindblad
According to 2nd Lt. Nicholas Lindblad, 533rd TRS trainee, he is excited to begin his career as a USSF officer.
“Being some of the first people in the Space Force lets us ask a lot of questions,” said Lindblad. “I am excited to be able to have a voice and say in the foundation of this new force.”
For Lindblad, joining the USSF is only one small step in his journey to outer space, as he is working towards eventually becoming an astronaut. He sees the Space Force as a great opportunity to improve the United States’ capabilities, so that we can keep space as a contested domain.
Lindblad is from Hastings, Neb., and in his spare time, he has been training for a marathon and surfing. Taking advantage of his new location at Vandenberg AFB, Lindblad uses running as an opportunity to stay in shape, relieve stress, and clear his mind. He also enjoys reading and finds it to be relevant to work, as he can focus on commander’s texts and take away valuable leadership lessons from this hobby.
2nd Lt. Eslinger
2nd Lt. Kristy Eslinger, 533rd TRS trainee, from St Louis, Miss., originally joined the U.S. Air Force to serve her country and to be part of something bigger than herself.
“I did not initially want to be a Space Force operator, but I trust the Air Force and Space Force’s process,” said Eslinger.
She has embraced her new career and the opportunities she is offered as a member of a new branch of service.
“It is up to us to create the culture and climate,” said Eslinger. “I recognize the importance of being the foundation of the Space Force and I am ready for the opportunities to follow. I’m looking forward to working with my crew and leading a team.”
According to Eslinger, she loves spending time outside, hiking, camping and running. Her time outdoors is what allows her to decompress and escape from the everyday grind. This holds great value to her as it allows her to show up to work with a positive attitude and feel ready to take on the challenges ahead.
2nd Lt. Alison Kruse
2nd Lt. Alison Kruse, 533rd TRS trainee, from Philadelphia, Pa., is participating in the Operational Exchange Program. This programs allows her to be an acquisitions officer by trade, while spending the first few years of her career learning the Space Operator mission through hands-on experience.
According to Kruse, she is excited to work with acquisitions and understand the material side of the mission and obtain valuable experience toward her long term goal of fulfilling a managerial position working closely with the U.S. Space Force in some respect.
“I studied management at school and I am excited to someday run a company,” said Kruse. “I know that my time in the Space Force will only make me more effective [later in life].”
Kruse recently adopted a dog and enjoys spending time with her after a long day at work. She recognizes the importance of physical activity and enjoys working out, as it allows her to feel stronger and be more focused on completing the task at hand.
According to Kruse, being one of the first members of the Space Force allows her to have a hand in fixing certain issues she recognizes in Air Force culture, an opportunity she could not pass up.
“Along with my concerns towards the culture, I am also inspired by the mission of the Space Force,” Kruse said. “Space is an important asset to everyday life because if we don’t have superiority in space, we don’t have it on the ground.”
2nd Lt. Matthew Chang
2nd Lt. Matthew Chang, 533rd TRS trainee, moved around a lot as a child because his father worked for the government, but he calls California home.
Chang comes from a family with a long lineage of government service, having several relatives who served in the Air Force.
Chang’s parents emigrated from Korea when they were young, and the process was made easier due to their government work positions. This was a larger motivator for him when he decided to join the military.
Chang is also participating in the Operational Exchange Program, like Kruse.
According to Chang, he has a passion for photography and nature. He enjoys taking time, while hiking, to capture the world around him. He also enjoys hobbies such as mixed martial arts and science fiction.
“We need to be faster in the way we think and act in space and being able to be a part of setting that new dynamic environment [is exciting],” said Chang. “Space is the next frontier with the greatest amount of beneficial gains, not only as a country, but as a species. If we can start a service dedicated to that very aspect, it can nurture that growth that we do need. Not only against the adversarial threat, but I do have these aspirations of seeing the Space Force being that spearhead into a greater Space Age.”
The future of the Space Force and the Western Range will unfold as these new Space Professionals learn and grow.
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