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NEWS | Dec. 28, 2023

US Space Forces Korea helps expedite professional development during Galaxy Program visit

By Maj. Rachel Buitrago, 7th Air Force

U.S. Space Force Lt. Col. Joshua McCullion, U.S. Space Forces Korea commander, welcomed six members of the Galaxy X Cohort from Space Systems Command for four days of professional development engagements focused on joint collaboration and cultural exchange, Nov. 28 – Dec. 1, 2023.

During the visit, the group met with personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, 7th Air Force, 8th Army, Marine Forces Korea, and U.S. Forces Korea, engaging in working group sessions to identify shortfalls in capabilities and connect those gaps with existing or emergent capability development programs within the U.S. Space Force. They also conducted cultural exchange, visiting the Korean War Memorial in Seoul and touring a Republic of Korea Space Operations unit here.

The Galaxy X cohort is currently completing the travel portion of the six-month Galaxy Program, a joint rapid professional development program that provides a rapid capability delivery experience for SSC and National Reconnaissance Office Guardians and civilians.

One key takeaway for the visit was the crucial role the U.S. Space Force plays in the joint fight.

“Working in Space Acquisitions at Los Angeles Air Force Base, we don’t often get the opportunity to speak with the warfighters that utilize the capabilities we field and sustain,” said Alex Ruiz, Galaxy X Cohort member and SSC POM Engine Room Chief. “Although I understood it conceptually, I didn’t fully grasp how important it is that our space capabilities be integrated and resilient within the joint force. Having spoken to the end users in theater, and more intimately understanding the threat profile and contingencies, I know now how important working with our mission partners is."

The engagements also highlighted the importance of relationships in the war-fighting domain, with both U.S. allies and joint partners.

“It really is a team working together to get after the mission; it is more than just the military--the relationship is multifaceted, encompassing economics, technology, and cultural aspects.” said Capt. Victoria Ponder, Galaxy X Cohort member and 2nd Range Operations Squadron Flight Commander. “We would not have learned this without visiting with various organizations, from the Embassy to Osan Air Base.”

According to McCullion, the program provides intense and immersive experiences, where participants grow personally and professionally while also working to contribute to real-world operational solutions. The Galaxy program gives its members the opportunity to tackle real-world challenges, fast-track career advancement, build lifelong networks, be at the forefront of innovation, and shape the future.

“The Galaxy Program stands as a testament to the Department of the Air Force's commitment to innovation and rapid adaptation in today's ever-evolving operational landscape,” McCullion said.

“[It’s] designed to expedite professional development of our acquisitions community through focused work to identify capability gaps directly with the operational commands.”

U.S. Space Forces Korea plans to continue hosting future Galaxy cohorts along with several SSC organizations, demonstrating its priorities of advancing domain awareness, strengthening the ROK-US Alliance, leading cross-component integration, and developing Guardians and families.

“We are coordinating closely with SSC to increase their participation in exercise events on the [Korean peninsula] to 1), provide continued professional development and exposure for our acquisitions and engineers and 2), allow those organizations an opportunity to witness real-world operations, capability gaps, and existing system employment highlights within the geographic combatant command,” McCullion said.

The Galaxy Program is open to SSC and NRO Guardians and civilians and runs two cohorts a year with each cohort spanning six months, from March-October and October-March. Call for nominations occurs in early October and selections are announced at the end of the year.

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