The US space force will certainly have to work hard to build an image that matches its ambitions.
The least we can say is that the Space Force has been a bit rough since the beginning. This armed body specializing in space was one of the great projects of Donald Trump, a president known for his exuberance; a filiation that did not help the youngest in the great family of the US Armed Forces (the USSF was only founded in 2019) to impose its legitimacy.
Since its formalization, its officials have been doing their best to achieve the recognition they believe they deserve. The agency multiplies its communication efforts and somehow tries 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 backfired…
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 equipment 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 clothing of these soldiers destined to evolve in space would look like. Will the uniform be covered in stars? Or will it be filled with patterns that, for example, resemble the surface of the Moon? Failed: Instead, the leaders opted for a standard green and brown camouflage… At least they’ll be equipped if they encounter a primeval forest in the middle of a space station.
— United States Space Force (@SpaceForceDoD) 18 January 2020
They distinguished themselves again a few months later when they presented their logo. All sci-fi fans will be immediately taken to task due to its uncanny resemblance to the famous Starfleet Command logo from the Star Trek series. Even actor George Takei took to his little spade by demanding royalties on Twitter…
And it is far from the last time that the USSF has distinguished itself in this way. We also remember the announcement of the legal title of the agency’s soldiers: officially, these are not soldiers, but “Guardians”. The release even came with one funny slogan worthy of a low-cost DIY market : “A name chosen by space professionals for space professionals”.
Today, after a year-long 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) 18 December 2020
Many observers immediately drew a parallel to Guardians of the Galaxy, a fun and good-natured work of fiction. They concluded that the Space Force had engaged in self-mockery… except it absolutely wasn’t! His staff were forced to clarify that this was a very serious decision, but the damage had already been done.
You will have understood: Today it is clear that the Space Force does not really command respect. Today, its image has nothing to do with prestigious bodies like the Navy Seals; it seems closer to those of the happy dolls embodied by Steve Carell and others in the eponymous series. And it looks set to last, since the agency has done it again, this time with an official anthem that isn’t tickled by beetles.
Is this real? It’s getting harder and harder to tell what is parody and what isn’t.
It’s embarrassing if it’s real.
— Martin Collinson (@LUFC_Arizona) 20 September 2022
A not really transcendent hymn
In the purest tradition of the USSF, this work is dubbed the Semper Supra (“Always Above”) one tasty cocktail of kitsch orchestration, clumsy diction and nonsensical verse. Judge instead:
“We are the mighty watchful eye,
Guardian beyond the blue,
The invisible front line,
Brave and honest warriors,
Boldly venturing into space,
There are no limits to our sky,
We keep watch day and night,
We are the Space Force from above.“
Admittedly, this type of text lends itself very poorly to translation, as 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 that is already openly mocked everywhere on social networks. “Is this real?” asks a user on Twitter. “It becomes difficult to tell what is parody and what is not. If true, it’s embarrassing…“
The original goal was to propose a work that could “become part of the Space Force’s culture and heritage for years to come“; not really a great success as it seems. But this is not necessarily a death. The USSF story is only just beginning, after all.
The agency could well find legitimacy and rebuild its image in the coming years with the rapid development of private space travel and the rise of geopolitical tensions linked to space; we must admit that the existence of this institution on paper makes sense. But for that she would already have to prove herself able to go on for a few months without tripping over the carpet!