Guardian Grit in Action - How Joint Exercises Strengthen Warfighter Interoperability

  • Published
  • By Edgar Nava, Space Systems Command Public Affairs
  • Space Systems Command
On April 29-30, 2024, U.S. Space Force (USSF) First Lieutenants Jordan Savage and Jackson Jennings, from Space Systems Command’s Battle Management Command, Control, and Communications Program Executive Office (SSC/BMC3), became the first Guardians to earn Stetsons and Silver Spurs alongside candidates from the U.S. Army’s 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team in Fort Bliss, Texas.

Hosted by the U.S. Army’s 6th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, this year’s Spur Ride, aptly referred to as ‘Hell Night,’ took place in the Chihuahuan desert over the course of 30 continuous hours. Consisting of a variety of mentally and physically demanding events, such as the BGM-71 TOW litter low crawl, land navigation, reconnaissance, and other infantry warfighting tactics such as call for fire and first aid, candidates humped 60 lb. rucks across 37 miles of arid high desert with minimal sleep to ‘earn their spurs.’

After earning their spurs, Savage and Jennings shared their insight on how joint exercises such as this allow them to flex their Guardian values, fuel their motivations to sharpen their grit, and expand their worldview of how they fit into joint warfighting operations.

“The young soldiers had so many questions for us about our day to day lives, our jobs, and the Space Force. They were dumbfounded that there was no mandatory physical fitness or mandatory formations,” said Savage. “We were the email guys and unsurprisingly, everyone expected us to fail. So, we needed to prove to everyone that USSF is capable, just as much as any other warfighters,” added Jennings. “They’d joke and say, listen here Space Cowboy, you aren’t earning it that easily,” they added.

“It’s important for Guardians to challenge themselves with opportunities like this, not just because it makes you a better warfighter, but also because we owe it to these 18–20-year-old soldiers as they’ll be the ones on the front lines. As Guardians, we’ve got to make sure that they’re as effective as they can be by providing as much capability as possible for them to successfully to do their jobs,” said Jennings.

“In future conflict, we’ll need diverse skill sets of all types, and as Guardians, we’ve got to signal that we’re not only physically, but emotionally capable of being forward deployed with our brothers and sisters in arms,” Savage added. “Training side by side and learning how warfighters operate was eye opening. I’m confident that it’ll allow us to better achieve mission success in the future,” he said.

Both Savage and Jennings, although admittedly bloody and bruised, hailed the joint exercise as purposeful, demanding, and fulfilling.

“It was cool to sit there at the end of the ruck, exhausted, tired, but satisfied. Enjoying the rich heritage of participating in traditions reaching back to 1775. Having them dawn the spurs on us was breathtaking, to say the least,” said Savage. “It’s not easy to do a spur ride at zero dark thirty. To be honest, some people didn’t expect for us to finish. But they saw us putting in the same amount of effort, and after we completed it, everyone was very accepting. They wanted to take photos and congratulate us,” added Jennings. The pair also praised the U.S. Army for their hard work and hospitability.

Savage and Jennings were originally selected to participate through a connection they had with another Guardian (formerly from SSC), USSF Capt. Bradley Evans, who also earned his Stetson and spurs alongside Savage and Jennings. In total, 173 out of 230 candidates completed the event, allowing these three young company grade officers to join the growing list of other Guardians with notable firsts, such as USSF Capt. Daniel Reynolds, the first Space Force Ranger, and USSF Col. Mike Hopkins, the first Space Force Astronaut.

Over one year ago, the U.S. Space Force (USSF) unveiled Guardian Spirit, Space Force Handbook 1-1, formalizing organizational values first introduced in the Guardian Ideal in 2021. As you can see, USSF Guardians wasted no time in exemplifying these Guardian values - Character, Connection, Commitment, and Courage, in their day-to-day lives. One can say that the United States Space Force may be America’s youngest and smallest military branch, but what you can’t say is that Guardians aren’t mighty.

For the additional insights into these three Guardians’ experience, be sure to check out Mr. Novelly 's ( or Ms. Nieberg's (Task & Purpose) coverage.