New Author Chris “MOGS” Dinote takes over my blog today. He is one of 11 authors in the military sci-fi anthology, Space Force: Building The Legacy, edited by Doug Irvin and published by Midlands Scribes Publishing. The book is available today in both e-book and print editions at the link above. MOGS’s story is: Frickin’ Guard Guys!
We’ve all seen the memes, right? The minute the world started talking about the mere idea of a United States Space Force, we were all instantly greeted by “LOL, Space National Guard/Space Force Reserves!” Notably, many of these parodies feature poor Jek Porkins, and that guy just can’t catch a break.
All joking aside, the irreverent interservice banter and, shall we say, “robust,” back-and-forth on social media reflects the very real, and very important, national-level discussions about creating a new military service branch. Part and parcel of building a military service, is how to organize, train, and equip its reserve component (or components, if we end up following the three-component model of the present-day US Army and US Air Force). As the anthology’s theme is “the first 100 years of the Space Force,” what we decide to do now and in the next few years will set the tone for those first 100 years. That’s not a small thing.
Regardless of whether we construct one or more reserve components to the US Space Force, the development of a unique reserve culture will inevitably follow. Currently, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units comprise the majority of reserve component space capabilities. If those organizations “swap patches,” then Space Force reserve culture will resemble the parent service components for a long time to come. However, as in the present day, reserve culture isn’t quite the same as the active component, and that’s perfectly okay.
I think the Guard in particular, with its unique dual-status existence, will still and always be “the Guard,” which is also perfectly okay, and that idea formed the basis of my story in this anthology.
The relationship between the parent services and their National Guard components is something I’ve experienced personally for about 14 of my 21 years in uniform so far. I’ve seen it go through many, many ups, downs, freezes and thaws. I recently completed a two-and-a-half year sentence assignment at the Pentagon, so I had a front row seat with the extra jumbo-sized popcorn to some of the conversations, staff work, research, arguments, politics, thinking, and pontificating on the Space Force itself, and the still unsettled questions about the role of the Guard and Reserve in its formation. As a professional, I’ll protect the integrity of what I bore witness to, but trust me, I do also have my own opinions.
While my story doesn’t take itself too seriously, it deals with some very serious experiences and issues, albeit with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Guard units are like families, and in many cases, they literally are families. They are often the closest and most direct community interaction that most of parts of America ever have with the US military, given that the majority of units aren’t on an active duty post and instead live in tiny armories and readiness centers, or on regional airports scattered throughout the country. Missions change, aircraft change, names change, but usually, the people don’t. To them, the unit is that much a part of life, and many if not most will stick it out unless the organization is no-kidding disbanded or moved so far away that commuting to drill isn’t a viable option for them. The dual lives of most guard members provide the military access to diverse skills, ideas, and perspectives that you often can’t readily find in the active component, in combinations that sometimes need to be seen to be believed.
Transitioning from the active-duty Air Force to my first Guard unit in 2006, the culture shock was very real. Then, as a full-time guardsman, later a staff officer, and as a squadron commander, I experienced and presided over drastic unit conversions, something else I briefly touch on in my story. Personally, I think there will be a Space National Guard in some form or another, and not just because the Guard’s actually been doing space missions since about 1995. Over time, the expansion and integration of space into the economic and social fabric of our states and communities, our daily lives, will only grow. Just a few short years ago, conventional wisdom didn’t see much of a role for the Guard and Reserve in cyber. Today, that role is significant, and rarely questioned, and that is largely because domestic cybersecurity demands emerged from our states, territories, and communities that few in the national-level defense establishment readily understood or foresaw. I think the same thing will happen with space, and that will spawn second, third, and nth-order effects we haven’t even thought of yet. I bet the Guard will be there for it too.
Christopher “MOGS” Dinote, has served twenty-one years so far in the United States Air Force and Air National Guard. Chris is currently serving an extended active duty tour in the Florida Panhandle. He has deployed for Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and Noble Eagle. The views expressed in this article do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of Defense of the U.S. Government.