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Space Systems Command Briefing — Space Systems Command Briefing — The Junior Guardians Forum Helps Young Officers Grow Their Careers
Lisa Sodders, Space Systems Command


There’s a new organization for young U.S. Space Force (USSF) officers who have taken the service’s motto


The Junior Guardians Forum (JGF) is a grassroots organization of USSF Company Grade Officers (CGO) — officers in grades 0-1 to 0-3, 2nd Lieutenant to Captain — that aims to connect CGOs with space domain experts across the U.S. Department of Defense, civil, space, industry and academic domains to give USSF junior officers an opportunity to learn from subject matter experts that they normally wouldn’t have access to in their day-to-day jobs, said 1st Lt. Jonathon L. Gabriel, a member of the Junior Guardians Leadership team.

1st Lt. Jonathon L.

Gabriel said the leadership team — himself, 1st Lt. Kyle Norbert, 1st Lt. Megan Cordone, 1st Lt. Gordon McCulloh and 2nd Lt. Allaire Morgan — created the JGF out of a desire to make sure young officers have all the information they need.

“The whole reason we created the organization is that there’s so much happening in the Space Force and the whole national space enterprise that it’s very hard to keep up,” Gabriel said. “As officers, we ought to be aware of potentially service-impacting events, so we can keep a high-level decision-making perspective in our jobs.”

“We want to make sure that the U.S. Space Force has the leadership and the knowledge base among young decisionmakers so they can make high-quality decisions when called upon,” Gabriel said.

The JGF organization, which is now a few months old, isn’t formally affiliated with the DoD or the USSF, Gabriel said, allowing it to be flexible and free from organizational constraints. It currently has about 150 members.

The JGF recently sponsored a virtual discussion on September 19th, where Debra Biely, a senior program analyst at the Space Development Agency

(SDA) and retired U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel, provided attendees with a “crash course” on the agency’s mission, how it operates and what has led to the SDA’s recent successes.

Debra Biely

The Junior Guardians on this call could be civilian Guardians one day,” Biely said. “SDA is all about ‘Semper Citius,’ ‘Always Faster.’ While all the great work at SDA is being done and delivered today with fewer than 300 very talented and experienced people, those interested in contributing to cutting edge technologies, new acquisition processes, and helping us accelerate delivery of new capabilities to the warfighter — should keep us in mind.

“The DoD is working to change the lengthy, detailed, and slow-moving acquisition processes that have developed over many years, and adapt to newer, cleaner, and more streamlined procedures that allow it to keep pace with emerging technologies and threats,” Biely said.

Biely spent most of her career in the Fleet Marine Forces before turning to a life of program analysis and review in Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps, Programs & Requirements, Secretary of the Navy Office of Program Assessment, and serving as a legislative fellow on the Hill as a military and space legislative assistant for a United States Senator.

Biely shared with the JGF participants, “Young professionals like yourselves have grown up with emerging technologies all around you. For that reason, you all are both comfortable and well- suited to bring that mindset into the Department; to embrace and help to expand our continued ability to deliver improved capabilities to the warfighter.”

More than a dozen Guardians attended the virtual event, which included a question-and-answer session at the end of the event.

2nd Lt. Michelle Roca

After spending my summer internship with the Space Development Agency and taking note of the organization’s mission-motivated commitment to excellence, I was eager to share their philosophy with the young Guardian community,” said 2nd Lt. Michelle Roca, another JGF member, who moderated the virtual event.

Debra was the perfect spokesperson because I knew she would eloquently and expertly describe how SDA is a trailblazer within the rapid acquisitions community,” Roca added. “It was encouraging to see both new and experienced Space Force professionals alike attend the event. It really spoke to the widespread interest in cutting-edge organizations, like SDA, that exist within the Space Force.

It’s groups like the JGF that demonstrate how the Space Force — and its servicemembers — are hoping to do things differently,” Roca said. “While I’ve only just begun my career in the Space Force, it’s clear that Guardians have an intense passion for their career and an insatiable thirst to learn more. I’m eager for the next JGF event to continue to learn as much as I can about space defense.

Gabriel said the JGF has had several virtual speaker events in recent months, showcasing experts from NASA, an expert on AI, and military launch innovators. As the membership is spread out on different bases and, often, in different time zones, hosting the events virtually has worked well, but the group hopes to eventually organize more localized events at various locations.

While the membership is company grade officers, Gabriel said it’s not unusual for a Colonel or other senior leaders to attend.

Chief of Space Operations, Gen. Chance Saltzman, has talked about how he’s expecting the young leaders of the service to exercise mission command and understand how all the pieces of the space enterprise fit together, Gabriel said.

Our job is to be decisionmakers day one on the job and the current generation of CGOs represents the change in the Space Force that is needed to build the service,” Gabriel said. “At our core, we have members taking time out of their busy day to learn about something that may not impact their day today, but might one day allow them to make better decisions.”

Company Grade officers interested in joining the group can visit the webpage www.juniorguardiansforum.com 
or follow the group on LinkedIn