Decidedly, the US Space Force will have to work hard to build an image to match its ambitions.
The least we can say is that the Space Force has been a little roughed up since its inception. This armed body specializing in space was one of the major projects of Donald Trump, a president known for his exuberance; a filiation which did not help the youngest of the great family of the American armed forces (the USSF was only founded in 2019) to impose its legitimacy.
Since its formalization, its officials have gone out of their way to obtain the recognition they believe they deserve. The agency multiplies communication efforts and tries somehow to rise to the height of other more prestigious institutions, such as the famous Marine Corps. But so far, his particularly clumsy efforts have often had the opposite effect…
Endless communication errors
An example is the official announcement of Space Force uniforms. This is an extremely important time for any branch of the military; this paraphernalia is an integral part of its identity, in addition to playing a central role in the public image of its troops.
Observers therefore wondered what the attire of these soldiers who are destined to evolve in space would look like. Will the uniform be covered in stars? Or will it be filled with patterns reminiscent of the surface of the Moon, for example? Failed: Instead, the leaders opted for a standard green and brown camouflage… At least they will be equipped if they come across a virgin forest in the middle of a space station.
— United States Space Force (@SpaceForceDoD) January 18, 2020
They distinguished themselves again a few months later, when they presented their logo. All sci-fi fans are immediately taken to task because of its uncanny resemblance to the famous Starfleet Command logo from the Star Trek series. Even actor George Takei went for his little spade in claiming royalties on Twitter…
And this is far from the last time that the USSF has distinguished itself in this way. We also remember the announcement of the regulatory title of the agency’s soldiers: officially, these are not soldiers, but “Guardians”. The publication even came with a hilarious slogan worthy of a discount DIY store : “A name chosen by space professionals, for space professionals”.
Today, after a yearlong process that produced hundreds of submissions and research involving space professionals and members of the general public, we can finally share with you the name by which we will be known: Guardians. pic.twitter.com/Tmlff4LKW6
— United States Space Force (@SpaceForceDoD) December 18, 2020
Many observers immediately drew a parallel with the Guardians of the Galaxy, a fun and good-natured work of fiction. They concluded that the Space Force had engaged in self-mockery… except that it was absolutely not the case! His staff was forced to clarify that this was a very serious decision, but the damage was already done.
You will have understood it: today, it is clear that the Space Force does not really inspire respect. Today, its image has nothing to do with that of prestigious bodies like the Navy Seals; it seems closer to those of the happy puppets embodied by Steve Carell and others in the eponymous series. And it seems set to last since the agency has done it again, this time with an official anthem that’s not piqued by beetles.
Is this real? It’s getting harder and harder to tell what’s parody and what’s not.
This is embarrassing if it’s real.
— Martin Collinson (@LUFC_Arizona) September 20, 2022
A not really transcendent hymn
In the purest tradition of the USSF, this work baptized Semper Supra (“Always above”) is a tasty cocktail of kitsch orchestration, clumsy figures of speech and meaningless verse. Judge instead:
“We are the mighty watchful eye,
Guardians beyond the Blue,
The invisible front line,
Brave and honest warriors,
Boldly venturing into space,
There is no limit to our sky,
We stand guard night and day,
We are the Space Force from above.”
Admittedly, this type of text lends itself very poorly to translation since it contains many very colorful formulas. But what seems obvious is that it will not restore the image of this institution; not sure that the USSF “guardians” will be particularly proud to sing this song already openly mocked everywhere on social networks. “Is this real?” asks a user on Twitter. “It becomes difficult to say what is parody and what is not. If that’s true, that’s embarrassing…”
The initial objective was to propose a work capable of “become part of the culture and legacy of the Space Force for years to come“; not really a great success as it stands. But this is not necessarily a fatality. After all, the USSF story has only just begun.
The agency could well find legitimacy and rebuild its image in the years to come, with the rapid evolution of private aerospace and the increase in geopolitical tensions linked to space; we must admit that on paper, the existence of this institution makes sense. But for that, she would already have to show herself capable of going on for a few months without tripping over the carpet!