13S AFSC Space Operations Officer

Thanks for joining us today on commissioned. I’m Reed. And today we’re going to be talking about a really dynamic career field, one that’s changing a lot and has been in the news a lot lately. The space operations or 13 Sierra.


This is an incredibly important career field to not only the Air force, but every single member of the joint force, because everything that we do will pass through space in some form or fashion.

Exactly. Which is one of the primary reasons that it was created. It was newly made as its own force, the United States Space Force. And as a result of that, this is going to be changing and dynamic. We’re trying to give you the best and most complete and most up to date information we have. But bear with us because it is changing a lot.

Right. In fact, I’m going through this process right now. I was a civil engineer on active duty. I’m now in the process of cross training into the 13 Sierra career field in the reserve. The United States Space Force doesn’t have a reserve component yet. So these things are, like you said, reed, are very dynamic, constantly changing. So make sure that you like and subscribe this video right now so that we can continue to provide you with the most up to date information that we have.

And part of that latest information we have is that all 13 Sierra officers are going to be transitioned to the Space Force, and that’s in the process of happening right now. Still, again, this is all kind of a dynamic, moving situation, but we’ve gotten folks coming out of our commissioning sources that are commissioning directly into the Space Force, which is really exciting, even though Colin, you and I, we left those commissioning sources before that started to happen. But just know that if this is something you’re interested in, you may not be joining the air Force. Instead, you may be going to the Space Force.


But you still go through the same commissioning sources before. You’ll still go to the Air Force Academy to become a space force officer or Air Force ROTC or even officer training school. Everything that we have said previously about those different commissioning sources still remains true. Even though you’re going to end up in the space force and not the air force.

Exactly. So what is it that a space force officer does? A lot of what they do is control our space assets. They create strategy and policy that impacts our space assets and employment of force from space. And as Colin, you’ve already mentioned, everything we do is going to connect, to be influenced by or be routed through space. So it’s a really important thing that we get. Right.


And just like all the other places where the military is involved, land, sea, air, space is a contested domain, and therefore we have to be prepared and fight whatever that might look like in space. And that’s where the space officer comes into their own. They are responsible for maintaining that space domain so that we have control and we have the ability to facilitate whatever mission is necessary on behalf of not only the air force, but the rest of our joint partners.

There’s a lot of training and education that is required in order to be an effective space operator. And the first of those is you’re going to have to get a technical bachelor’s degree. You cannot become a space operations officer without a bachelor of science in one of those technical fields. We’re going to provide a link in the description below to the Air Force officer classification directory or the AFOCD, which has information about the specific degrees that are required to be a 13 Sierra, because you cannot be in that career field without a technical bachelor’s degree.


You need to have that technical competence in place so that when you are working with the enlisted airmen who are responsible for the actual employment of the satellites, changing their orbits around the earth, or any other number of things, you understand what it is that is going on because it’s in space, you’re not going to be there actually turning the wrenches. You have to troubleshoot and solve everything from on the ground.


The amount of problem solving and communication that goes into that is on another level. Colin, I’ve told you this before. I’ve had the privilege of working with astronauts. Now, 13 Sierras and astronauts are actually different air force specialty codes in the air force. They’re not the same, but because of that dimension of space, they have a lot of similar characteristics, and that ability to communicate is absolutely one of them. Absolutely. Something else to think about is the initial qualification training that you have to go through. It’s the space officer course that happens at Vandenberg Air Force Base about five months long, and that’s your initial qualification that you have to attend and successfully complete in order to be a 13 Sierra.


And you mentioned Vandenberg Air Force base. That is one of the locations where space operations officers are going to be assigned. Vandenberg Air Force Base being one, because it’s on the coast where they do a lot of launches. The other coast of the United States is also involved there, the Cape Canaveral in Florida, Cape Cod in Massachusetts. A lot of these coastal areas are prime locations for space operations. But the true home of space operations for the United States is in Colorado, specifically Colorado Springs.

So I’m glad you brought up locations. This is something that you’re almost not ever going to deploy in order to accomplish your mission because all of it is again done remotely. There’s no real reason for you deploy. There are a few positions here or there mostly doing strategy and policy and that sort of thing, but by and large you’re going to be at home station for the duration of your career.

Right. The opportunities for deployment are few and far between. They do exist, but that is a very niche, very specific capability and one that is also extremely classified, one that neither you or I know very much about.


There are a few developmental opportunities for 13 sierras. There is a weapon school opportunity. Again, still uncertain how that’s going to look as we move forward into the space force. Right now there are some developmental opportunities and there are opportunities to command. Absolutely.

Just like their rated counterparts, space operations. Operations is in the word, right. They are expected to command air and space operations at every level of the air force. And so if you are interested in being a commander at ever higher levels, this is definitely a place to do that.

If you are interested in really changing the future and being part of something that’s new and late and breaking, maybe you should consider an opportunity. As a 13 Sierra space operations officer in the United States Space Force, I know a few people that have crossed over, Colin, and they are absolutely on the forefront. They are going to be the founding fathers and mothers of this new service. It’s really an exciting time. Absolutely.

And we’ve interviewed a few of these people. So we encourage you to check out the links that we put in the description to those different interviews. And if that doesn’t satisfy your curiosity for this career field, then we ask you to send us your questions. Engage with us in the heritage room, reach out to us through our email or social media platform. We’d be happy to answer those questions if we can. If we can’t, then we’ve got a great network of very smart, very capable space operations officers that we would love to put you in touch with.

Don’t forget to like and subscribe. We really appreciate you all joining us today on this episode of Commission Eight.

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