Space Force leaders take on Air University

  • Published
  • By Billy Blankenship
  • Air University Public Affairs

Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman and Vice Chief of Space Operations Gen. Michael Guetlein spoke to Air University students while visiting Maxwell Air Force Base, Jan. 22-23, 2024.

The Space Force leader duo shared updates on the Defense Department’s newest service branch while stressing the importance of competitive endurance and the foundational service framework.

“This is quite an honor and privilege. It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that I was at SAASS,” said Saltzman, a 2005 graduate of School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, as he talked to the current students about the service’s Theory of Success. “I don’t see the fight in space having a clear endpoint. That’s why it’s success and not victory. We want to be in competition because competition is better than crisis or conflict, especially with our great power competitors.”

The Theory of Success the head Space Force leader referenced includes three tenants to achieve competitive endurance: avoid operational surprise, deny first-mover advantage, and responsible counterspace campaigning. He challenged students to study and look for holes in these concepts.

Saltzman and Guetlein were able to engage with students from SAASS, Air Command and Staff College, Squadron Officer School, Air War College and the Joint Flag Officer Warfighting Course and conduct a university instructor round table. This was Guetlein’s inaugural visit to campus as the VCSO, as he was still on his first week in the position.

“We need to spend our time understanding why we’re doing what we’re doing across the joint force,” the VCSO said to a combined ACSC and SOS audience. “The threat is the 'why' we are here at SOS, ACSC, and across the rest of Air University. If we forget about why we are here, we forget about optimizing the pause from our day-to-day jobs to think and be grounded in the force and what we need to be.”

Both leaders engaged with students about the critical role the space domain plays in the joint environment, equipping leaders at various levels with ways to leverage the newest service.

“Space is different from a war fighting domain perspective,” Guetlein said. “The old way of doing business is not going to cut it. It worked for us in the past but won’t work going forward. Our modern society relies on space for everything we do. I could lose access to some of the other domains, and it wouldn’t affect me in the way it would space.”

There are currently 12 Space Force Guardians serving on the Air University staff who were able to spend time with their service leadership, along with nine ACSC students, two flights of SOS students in the Space Force-specific track, two at Air War College, and one in JFOWC.