CSO visits Air University, encourages conversation and debate from students

  • Published
  • By Billy Blankenship
  • Air University Public Affairs

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala.- Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman visited Air University students and faculty Feb. 27-28, 2023.

In conjunction with meeting local Guardians at a breakfast, Saltzman spent time with students from the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, West Space Seminar,  Joint Flag Officer Warfighting Course, and faculty from across the university.

Much of Saltzman’s discussions centered around the concept of competitive endurance and the unique attributes of the space domain that must be taken into account when considering how the service will compete and achieve success in the future.

“It’s about reshaping the discussion. Reshaping what’s visible. Reshaping the calculus to try to keep that first shot from happening,” the general said in discussion with SAASS about the importance of avoiding operational surprise and denying first-mover advantage in space. ““The discussion is to get people in the right frame of mind to have that discussion related to the space domain.”

Beyond deterrence, topics of conversation included partnerships with the commercial sector in the space domain, and how senior military leadership needs thought leaders and Guardians who are at the tactical edge during this time of growth for the newest branch of service.

“There are rules of the game, and we need to lay those out,” Saltzman said in response to a student’s question about norms of behavior in the space domain. Saltzman explained the USSF is part of a whole-of-government approach to developing norms of behavior. One of the ways the USSF supports these efforts is through fostering strong international partnerships and setting a positive example through responsible operations in space. 

Presenting on a Theory of Success for the Space Force on the first day of his visit, the general then returned on his second day to have more student interaction. Day two provided the students an opportunity to challenge the 2005 SAASS graduate on his  comments from the day prior, utilizing the critical thinking of the school’s space-minded students, and other university faculty, to bring information back to space leadership.

“One of the features that distinguishes our great program is the opportunity to not just hear from senior leaders but to engage them in productive dialogue on critical topics,” said Col. Jason Trew, the SAASS commander. “To do that with the first SAASS alumni to reach the level of a service chief made the event even more powerful.”