NEWS | Sept. 30, 2020

Semper Supra: 31st MEU Welcomes First Space Force Officer Aboard USS America

By Lance Cpl. Brienna Tuck 31st MEU Communication Strategy and Operations

PHILIPPINE SEA -- The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and America Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) welcomed the first Space Force Liaison Officer (LNO) aboard amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), Sept. 17, 2020.

1st Lt. Rio Sarmiento, assigned to the 16th Space Control Squadron (SPCS), was administered the oath of office into the United States Space Force by U.S. Marine Col. Michael Nakonieczny, commanding officer of the 31st MEU.

The ceremony that took place made history, as Sarmiento was transferred from being a space operations officer in the Air Force to becoming the first Space Force LNO deployed with the 31st MEU.

Both of Sarmiento’s grandfathers served in World War II—one in the Navy, and the other earning a Bronze Star for his service in the Army. Sarmiento said that her family’s military history made the experience of transferring to the Space Force while on a Navy vessel particularly meaningful to her.

“It was an honor to be transferred from the Air Force to the Space Force by the 31st MEU commanding officer on a Navy vessel,” says Sarmiento. “In the short time I have been on the America, I am able to witness the impressive interoperability of the Marines and Sailors and their calculated and precise planning process. I am incredibly proud to support their mission and to serve alongside the 31st MEU and America ARG.”

The U.S. Space Force organizes, trains and equips forces in order to protect U.S. and allied interests in space and to provide space capabilities to the joint forces.
Sarmiento’s role as the Space LNO is to integrate and enhance the 31st MEU’s space capabilities. Embedding a Space LNO in the mission planning process provides a medium for reach back capability to the 613 Air Operations Center, Combat Plans Division, and other Space Force assets.

“While being attached to the 31st MEU, I am assessing its current space capabilities and providing feedback on how to enhance those capabilities by integrating Space Force assets,” says Sarmiento. “Ensuring that mission planners understand the space capabilities available to them during the mission planning process is more of a necessity than a luxury, since space applies to all domains. We want to equip our joint forces with the essential capabilities to remain lethal and competitive against adversaries.”

Sarmiento hopes her future in the Space Force will allow her the opportunity to work with other branches and enhance their awareness of space capabilities.

The 31st MEU will continue to integrate across the joint force whenever possible to better achieve superiority throughout all warfighting domains.

America, flagship of the America ARG – 31st MEU team, is operating in the U.S. 7th fleet area of operations to enhance interoperability with allies and partners and serve as a ready response force to defend peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.