Space Force guardians continue to solidify their place among the U.S. armed forces as the newest branch turned three years old in December.

Chief of Space Operations Gen. B. Chance Saltzman became the second person to serve as the Space Force’s top officer in November. He replaced Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, who retired after six years as the Pentagon’s highest-ranking military space official.

The Space Force, which falls under the Department of the Air Force, seeks 472 new enlistees and 42 new officers in fiscal 2023, according to Air Force spokesperson Tech. Sgt. Deana Heitzman. That marks a slight dip in the number of enlisted sought from last year’s 521 guardians, and an even smaller uptick in officers from its goal of 32.

The active duty Space Force expects to consist of 4,286 enlisted billets and 4,314 officer billets, remaining the smallest branch by far.

Of the more than 8,100 troops who have joined the Space Force, nearly three-fourths are former airmen. About 1,500 people, or 19%, enlisted or commissioned directly into the newest service.

About 7% of Space Force members have come from the Army, 1% from the Navy, and less than 1% from the Marine Corps. The service will announce its latest transfer picks in early 2023.

The Space Force is growing its budget from $17.4 billion in fiscal 2022 to $24.5 billion in 2023. That spike is largely due to the Space Development Agency moving from high-level Pentagon oversight to instead report to the Space Force.

In the coming year, the Space Force expects to continue creating regional headquarters units that will report to four-star commanders around the world. It also plans to pursue more in-depth specialized training for its satellite operators, cyber experts and intelligence analysts, and hash out unique new features of its service culture.

Rachel Cohen is the editor of Air Force Times. She joined the publication as its senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Frederick News-Post (Md.), Air and Space Forces Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy and elsewhere.

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