SpOC Chaplain Corps leads the charge in supporting global operations

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt Hillary Gibson
  • Space Operations Command
Space Operations Command, the Space Force’s only operational field command, is hard at work determining the best way to support Guardians and Airmen who often find themselves stationed in remote and austere locations, far removed from the support systems found in traditional military units.
For the first time in history, the U.S. has consolidated its space mission under one military branch. Guardians and the Airmen who provide support are quickly learning the Space Force will require a new approach when it comes to best leveraging support services. Accessibility to services enables readiness and ensures our Guardians can focus their attention on the 24/7 space mission.
Lt. Col Christopher Conklin, Field Command Chaplain Space Operations Command, is leading the charge when it comes to figuring out how best to provide spiritual support services to Guardians assigned to SpOC but stationed around the globe.
 “I know the Chaplain Corps is making a difference when we make the move from ‘the’ chaplain to ‘my’ chaplain,” said Conklin. “This requires Chaplains and Religious Affairs Airmen to be plugged into their organization’s culture. Their physical presence enables them to learn and understand the individual needs of their unit and its personnel”.
So, how do you meet the needs of your people when a fundamental aspect of your job becomes a logistical challenge?
According to Conklin, “Being innovative in finding solutions is key. But being proactive is more so. We can no longer afford to be reactive. The demand signal is clear.”
Currently, Chaplain’s assigned to support the Space Force are utilizing the Air Force’s approach to providing spiritual resiliency support. Things have come a long way in the last decade with the Air Force kicking off programs like True North, which saw resiliency teams embedded into specific high demand units. While it’s a good start, simply plugging and playing into an existing system is not the answer.
Conklin has been hard at work assessing the needs of the Space Force personnel he supports which include Guardians, Airmen, Interservice Transfers, civilians and contractors. From Washington D.C. to Thule, Greenland, Space Force teams are smaller and spread out to provide support for global operations.  The unique infrastructure at these locations may look different than what one expects to find readily accessible to Department of Defense personnel serving stateside and abroad.
These challenges are not limited to the Chaplain Corps but are shared across all forms of support services the Air Force provides to the Space Force. For example, individuals assigned to the SATCOM mission in Hawaii often find themselves supporting 24/7 operations. Their battle rhythm is demanding with little wiggle room for anything ad-hoc. Yet, their support services are located nearly an hour away on an entirely different military installation. As the Space Force continues to grow, challenges like these will not be uncommon. 
“Ultimately, we must prepare our Guardians to operate and succeed where they don’t have immediate support,” said Conklin. Military leaders like Conklin will continue to develop new approaches to meet the needs of their personnel in the most effective and efficient manner unique to the Space Force. They are committed to build the Space Force our Guardians deserve.