The Space Force has confirmed that it is actively asking its members to weigh in on their rank designs. The news comes after an infographic began making the rounds on social media showing what appeared to be options for proposed enlisted rank insignia for the military’s newest branch.
The survey, which was posted on the popular Facebook page Air Force amn/nco/snco on Thursday, shows four separate insignia designs for enlisted Space Force ranks, from Specialist 2 (E2) through Chief Master Sergeant (E9). The Space Force would not confirm whether the concepts for its enlisted rank insignia were real or not, saying it would undermine their efforts to conduct a scientific study. Still, the real takeaway here is that the service is actively soliciting feedback from its own members on its rank insignia design.
“We are conducting a scientifically-designed survey to capture Guardian feedback on proposed enlisted insignia designs. The results of the survey will inform the next steps toward finalizing insignia designs,” said Lynn Kirby, a Space Force spokesperson. “We do not have a deadline for a final decision, rather our priority is to finalize enlisted insignias that appropriately reflect our members and the important mission they perform as quickly as feasible following scientifically-established processes.”
Kirby explained that the Space Force declined to discuss the content of the survey “to protect the validity of the research.” Guardians will wear Air Force rank insignia until the Space Force finalizes its own rank insignia designs, as the service explained in a press release in January.
“Since day one the Space Force has actively asked for member feedback and will continue to do so as we make these important decisions,” Kirby said.
Even so, the crowd’s reaction to the purported rank insignia is the same as it’s always been with every new step of the formation of Space Force: indignation.
“You could’ve used ANYTHING from the SCI-FI channel and literally found something more unique to duplicate,” said one person commenting on Air Force amn/nco/snco. “No hate but, this is a big missed opportunity to inspire some real MORALE and buy in from your New Space Defenders.”
“Wow, so creative,” said another. “They must’ve brainstormed for at least 12 minutes to come up with these.”
Still, one design seemed to come out on top in this reporter’s very un-scientific survey of Facebook and Reddit comments. That design features a globe-like circle with an orbit around it, chevron stripes below it, and the Space Force Delta above it. The overall profile is shaped like a hexagon, which is definitely unique to this branch. Multiple commenters said they liked the design because, unlike the other proposals, it stood out from similar rank insignias found in the Army and Air Force.
“I like this option only because it is different,” said one Reddit user.
“I like [the hexagon option],” said a Facebook user. “It’s different. Makes them stick out. Looks nice.”
The wide range of reactions shows some of the challenges facing the newly-formed Space Force as it tries to establish its own identity. It is, in many ways, stuck between a rock (or something) and a hard place: The Space Force can either play it safe with rank names, insignia and flag by sticking closely with examples from older branches, or go nuts with wild new ideas and risk looking ridiculous. One advantage of resembling other branches is that it makes new ranks easily recognizable, but many followers seem frustrated Space Force won’t take more risks in carving out its own unique look.
“[The] ranks are too similar to other branches and there is no distinction between NCO/SNCO,” wrote one Reddit user. “I’m not fond of any of the choices.”
“It’s almost like they are deliberately trying to push people towards Air Force 2.0 as the ‘least worst option,’” wrote another.
But hey, you know what they say: in space, nobody can hear you scream [angry comments at the newest military branch].
Task & Purpose deputy editor James Clark contributed reporting.