The U.S. Space Force will call its personnel “Guardians.”
Many, many people aren't fans of the name.
Science fiction is replete with decent alternatives.
Yes, that’s really what the U.S. Space Force, the country’s newest military branch, will call its uniformed men and women.
Vice President Mike Pence announced the name at a White House event commemorating the one-year anniversary of the Space Force’s founding on Friday.
According to the Space Force, the branch chose “Guardians” after a “yearlong process that produced hundreds of submissions and research involving space professionals and members of the general public.”
Almost immediately after the announcement, critics took to social media to slam the name, with Twitter and Reddit users, for example, calling it "cringey" and "embarrassing." And at press time, a simple “space force guardian cringe” Google search turns up 950,000 results.
Fans of the video games Destiny and Destiny 2 pointed out the player characters in the games are called “Guardians,” while many other people drew obvious parallels to the Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, prompting this tweet from the director of those movies, James Gunn:
And of course, the criticism came full circle with comparisons of the Space Force logo to Star Trek’s Starfleet Command logo:
So let me get this straight... First, the new Space Force... borrows from Star Trek's Starfleet Command for their logo. Now they are going to be Guardians? So literally, they will be Guardians of the Galaxy. Seriously? pic.twitter.com/tKei5XDjVQ
— Ryan P. Handley (@rphandley) December 19, 2020
It seems unlikely the Space Force will reverse a decision on naming its troops. But if it could—and we should never count out angry mobs on the internet—here are a few better alternatives.
We suggested this back in February, and the Space Force ignored us. Robert Heinlein used the term in his influential novel Starship Troopers. It's short, to the point, gender-neutral, and better than "Guardians."
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This follows the convention set down by the Air Force with its airmen name, but includes a female version from the get-go. (Both men and women are called “airmen” in the Air Force, and the service said in 2016 it had no intention on changing the outdated policy.) The name harkens back to the pulp fiction years of sci-fi, is a bonus nod to David Bowie, and is better than "Guardians."
“Trooper” is traditionally a term reserved for cavalrymen patrolling the frontier on the American West. If space is the “final frontier,” then “Trooper” might be a suitable name for U.S. Space Force personnel. “Space Force Troopers” is better than "Guardians."
What if we drop the idea that Space Force personnel need their own unique name? It’s pretty difficult to come up with names for Space Force branch personnel, given mankind has only been interacting with space for the last 70 years. There's a distinct lack of tradition to fall back upon. Maybe we could just refer to them as “Space Force personnel,” and let them pick their own names for themselves at the informal level. It's still better than "Guardians."
In other Space Force News, the chief of Space Operations, Gen. Jay Raymond, told reporters the service will nearly triple in size, from the current 2,400 members to 6,400 by 2021. Transfers from other services, including the U.S. Army and Navy, will account for much of the growth.
Additionally, Space Force will also add a Space Force Reserve of part-time "Guardians." Gen. Raymond also became the eighth member of the U.S. Military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, after the Vice Chief of Staff, Army Chief of Staff, Navy chief of naval operations, Commandant of the Marine Corps, Air Force chief of staff, Coast Guard Commandant, and head of the National Guard Bureau.
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