By Daniel Ngongo

Gen. Chance Saltzman, Chief of Space Operations for the U.S. Space Force, addressed ROTC cadets and the University of Louisville community Nov. 10.

Born in Daviess County, raised in Bowling Green, and now the second-ever Chief of Space Operations, Saltzman’s Kentucky origin story rang with a bit of authenticity. The general took a moment to reflect on his journey and the influence it may have on the university’s cadets. He shared his background and the values that guided him through his career.

“It’s pretty humbling… I’m just a Kentucky kid… but the lessons I learned growing up—work hard, do your job, treat people nice—those lessons still apply,” he shared, elaborating on the core values of the U.S. Space Force.

He encouraged the study of technical subjects, noting, “space is heavily technically centered… you have to understand the physics. Military space is not new,” Saltzman stated.

“The guardians have to be able to problem solve…We have to give them the training, the education so they can be good problem solvers to mitigate those threats,” Saltzman explained.

The U.S. Space Force is the newest branch of the United States Armed Forces, in 2019. It was created to handle national security and maintain military operations in outer space. As a service branch, the Space Force operates independently under the Department of the Air Force, much like how the Marine Corps operates under the Department of the Navy.

“Elevating military space to a service level is really what has changed dramatically. Now, we can compete for our own budget, design our own systems, train our own people to focus solely on space operations…” he continued. As the domain of space becomes critical to modern warfare and daily civilian life through satellite technology, the Space Force aims to protect U.S. interests and assets such as GPS navigation, satellite communication, and missile warning systems.

This Veterans Day is a celebration of traditional service and also the new ‘Guardians’ who defend the high frontier.

“We honor the long line of dedication and sacrifice… We feel the pressure to answer the call of duty imposed at the time and to set the standard for those that will come next,” he said.

He did recognize that there are challenges in broadening the reach of the Space Force’s influence and the public’s understanding of its role.

“I’m trying to get out to places like Louisville and say ‘hey, let me tell you about the Space Force,'” Saltzman stated, emphasizing the need for public engagement. He also reflected on the broader context of service, hoping that communities would understand and appreciate the varied forms of service.

To those at the University of Louisville contemplating a career in the Space Force, Saltzman offered straightforward advice:

“Study hard… We’re looking for people of character, committed to a sense of purpose… People that have the courage to tackle problems and dive into the unknown.”

Photo Courtesy // Major Elias Small, Public Affairs Advisor to the Chief of Space Operation