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Learning to be a Guardian while a “casual lieutenant”

Photo of 2nd Lt Aidan Sams

Second Lt. Aidan Sams, a "casual lieutenant" currently working in the commander's action group for the Combined Force Space Component Command, stands in front of the CFSCC headquarters building on Oct. 14, 2021. He is working at CFSCC for several months while awaiting the start date of his Officer Undergraduate Space Training class. (U.S. Space Force photo by Lt. Col. Mae-Li Allison)

Photo of 2nd Lt Aidan Sams

Second Lt. Aidan Sams, a "casual lieutenant" currently working in the commander's action group for the Combined Force Space Component Command, stands in front of the CFSCC headquarters building on Oct. 14, 2021. He is working at CFSCC for several months while awaiting the start date of his Officer Undergraduate Space Training class. (U.S. Space Force photo by Lt. Col. Mae-Li Allison)

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. --


When you think of a “casual lieutenant” you probably don’t think of writing strategic messages that are distributed to thousands of people, drafting talking points for a general officer, or coordinating and narrating a two star “All Call” with 300 personnel attending. However, that is exactly what I have done, and more, in my first 2 months in the Space Force. In anticipation of my Officer Undergraduate Space Training date, I was lucky enough to be selected to work on the commander’s action group for Maj. Gen. DeAnna Burt, the Commander of the Combined Force Space Component Command, and it has been a priceless experience in my development as a Guardian.

What they got was a brand new officer fresh from commissioning, and to say I didn’t know a lot about the Space Force was an understatement. For the first two weeks I kept a notepad on me where I wrote down every acronym I didn’t know, or a specific delta’s mission or location until I had made my own little fact sheet. After another week I started to understand more of the Space Force vernacular, and was learning to speak it at an elementary level. Then I helped execute the CFSCC commander’s conference and was able to understand how important space was to the warfighter and American people.

Over time I became more confident and comfortable with not only the material being discussed, but the people I was discussing it with. Through this experience I have grown to appreciate all the work that goes into a staff position, and met some truly amazing people who I will stay in contact with well into the future. Moreover, I have learned what goes into successfully coordinating visits having served as an action officer for a Marine Corps Forces Space Command visit, and now know how much we depend on the support of protocol, venues like the collocated club, and various other teams across the delta. These lessons learned will be very valuable as I progress through my career and eventually serve in staff positions.

Obviously it would have been nice to be more prepared for my new position, but my time here has taught me, you only need four things to do well:

  1. Look the part. Have your uniform squared away and all other parts of you looking sharp.
  2. Take every opportunity you can. There is no point in being afraid to fail because you will make mistakes regardless. It’s how you learn from them that counts.
  3. Have a good attitude and be kind to people. This should be self-explanatory but you would be surprised how simply being kind to someone will make their day. Build those relationships around you and they will help you succeed at whatever your goals are.
  4. Find a balance. You simply cannot be in “work mode” all the time regardless of how important the deadline or assignment is. This is something my supervisor, Lt. Col. Peter Aguirre, stressed to me early on with his “5 F’s” (family, force, faith, fitness, and fun) and I could not be more appreciative. I have learned being a great officer takes being an even better person to accomplish, and I will not take that lightly.

I count myself fortunate to have been exposed to so many outstanding officers, NCOs and civilians and I am thankful for all I have learned.  I have no doubt that I will carry these lessons into my career and make the United States Space Force ”Semper Supra,” always above.