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Space Force Association founder visits Malmstrom Air Force Base

Space Force Patch
Posted at 5:18 PM, Feb 09, 2023

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE — Did you know the newest branch of the U.S. military has a small detachment at Malmstrom Air Force Base?

The recent Chinese surveillance balloon that was seen over Montana and eventually shot down over the east coast emphasized the importance of national security and the role of Malmstrom Air Force Base.

On Wednesday, base leaders and other personnel got a first-hand look at the role and mission of the U.S. Space Force and its supporting organization, the Space Force Association.

Retired Air Force Colonel Bill Woolf went back recently to where his military career began. He started as a missileer at Malmstrom in 1995. Almost 30 years later, he’s spreading the word about a new branch of service.

“The mission of the Space Force Association is to inform, educate and advocate for the U.S. Space Force Guardians and their families and to ensure the U.S. Space Force has the capabilities to execute it’s space superiority mission,” said Woolf.

Bill Woolf
Bill Woolf

Malmstrom is home to a Space Force squadron, Detachment 1 of 22 Space Operations Squadron (Det 1, 22 SOPS). With about 17 members, they are serving a classified cyber mission.

“The Space Force is really dedicated on the technology in orbit through satellites, to insure that our terrestrial domains have the capabilities they need,” said Woolf. “The terrestrial domain of the other services such as the Navy, the Air Force and the Army.”

The non-profit SFA was established near the end of 2019, just a few months before the Space Force became a service. Woolf welcomes the challenge of getting the word out about the Space Force. Space Force only has a few bases and by design a limited organizational structure. In total, there are about 18,000 service members (known as Guardians) and civilians in the Space Force.

“There aren't a lot of men and women walking around in uniform with Space Force on their uniform,” said Woolf. “So a lot of people don’t even recognize or understand that the Space Force is a service in the Department of Defense.”

U.S. Space Force patch
U.S. Space Force patch

Woolf, who now makes his home in the Wolf Creek area, says the recent incident with a Chinese surveillance balloon over U.S. airspace is a good example of why the Space Force is needed.

“What that lends to is the fact that we don’t have good surveillance techniques for the air domain,” said Woolf. “Now let’s extend those surveillance capabilities that we have out into the space domain. If the Chinese are doing that with balloons currently over sovereign airspace, what is happening in the space domain today. That’s a critical aspect of the Space Force and what they’re thinking about every single day to insure that our assets in space and those satellites are protected.”

Woolf says the Space Force Association works to combine several facets including the military, civil and private sectors.

“We talk about the civil sector that’s NASA and the private sector that’s SpaceX,” said Woolf. “It’s really how do you combine all three of those sectors together to talk about the criticality and what this space domain offers not just for space exploration but for how it supports critical infrastructure that we take advantage of pretty much on a day to day basis here in America.”

Membership in the Space Force Association isn’t just limited to Guardians. For $35 a year, Woolf says anyone with an interest in space or supporting the military can make a big difference.

“We’re always looking for volunteers to help out with the numerous programs that we have set up,” said Woolf. “That starts with the Space Force Cadet Corps through the SFA Creator League which is helping to create coders on gaming platforms to our Global Space University. So there’s really a lot of opportunities out there but that’s really the benefit of becoming an SFA member.”

Woolf also thinks Montana can play a role in developing the Space Force. He says the Gianforte administration is keen on bringing space industry to the Treasure State.

“I’d like to offer up the Space Force Association as a tool to help bring and retain some of that industry here in Montana,” said Woolf. “Because while Montana is well known for its agriculture and livestock, it can also be well known for its innovation in space technologies as well.”

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