Erie recruiter helps future with US Space Force take off with prospective candidates

U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Andrew Bergdorf expects local recruiting interest for Space Force to pique in late spring, early summer

Ron Leonardi   | Erie Times-News play { // query dom only after user click if (!vdContainer) { vdContainer = document.getElementById(‘videoDetailsContainer’); vdShow = document.getElementById(‘vdt_show’), vdHide = document.getElementById(‘vdt_hide’); } vdContainer.hidden = !(vdContainer.hidden); // show/hide elements if (vdContainer.hidden) { vdShow.hidden = false; vdHide.hidden = true; } else { if (!flagCaption) { flagCaption = true; fireCaptionAnalytics() } vdShow.hidden = true; vdHide.hidden = false; } }); function fireCaptionAnalytics () { let analytics = document.getElementById(“pageAnalytics”); try { if (analytics) { analytics.fireEvent(`${ga_data.route.basePageType}|${section}|${subsection}|streamline|expandCaption`); } else { if (window.newrelic) window.newrelic.noticeError(‘page analytics tag not found’); } } catch (e) { if (window.newrelic) window.newrelic.noticeError(e); } } }()); ]]>

US Space Force: What to know about the newest US military branch

The U.S. Space Force has been around for a year now. Here’s what you may not know about America’s newest military branch.


  • Recruiter Andrew Bergdorf: About 2,500 Air Force staff, civilians nationwide comprise Space Force.
  • Space Force tasked with protecting U.S., allied interests in space and provide space capabilities
  • Recruits need strong background in physics, mathematics, chemistry and programming

Space Force.

It sounds cool, it’s resonating with prospective U.S. Air Force recruits nationwide and it’s now the sixth and newest military service branch. 

Signed into law in December 2019 as part of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, the U.S. Space Force is tasked with organizing, training and equipping space forces to protect U.S. and allied interests in space and to provide space capabilities to joint forces. It is the first new military service branch since the Air Force was created in 1947.

“I think there is going to be a huge uptick in recruits. When everybody gets out of high school in the summer, we’ll see a large surge of recruits we’re looking for to fill Space Force positions,” said U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. and recruiter Andrew Bergdorf, 32, a native of Akron, Ohio.  

A 15-year Air Force veteran, Bergdorf was assigned to Erie in December after serving for four years at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. 

A large U.S. Air Force Space Force flag is on display inside his office at the Armed Forces recruiting center at the Summit Towne Center, in the 7200 block of Peach Street. 

Bergdorf is proud to show it off. 

“Everybody is excited about the Air Force, and the jobs are really limited now,” Bergdorf said. “We already had Air Force space wings and squadrons that take care of space systems, and we’re starting to see the migration from those jobs into the Space Force. 

“It’s still in its infancy. There’s a lot of interest from recruits from a technological standpoint,” he said. “I think a lot of people are excited to explore that frontier. There’s a lot of excitement.”

Air Force officials have said that space has become essential to the nation’s security and prosperity and requires a military branch dedicated to its defense. 

Bergdorf said about 2,500 Air Force staff and civilians nationwide now comprise Space Force. Those numbers are expected to grow exponentially.

More: Pentagon inspector general reviews Trump relocation of Space Command from Colorado to Alabama

Present Space Force personnel has been culled from across the Defense Department, reassigned Air Force personnel, qualified civilians, and the private industry sector, Bergdorf said. 

“There are a lot of applications and they have approved about 20 percent with Air Force and the other branches to get into Space Force,” Bergdorf said. “It’s very competitive, so you would have to have a background in computer systems, programming or satellites. You have to already have your resume built for that.

“We only get a handful of jobs for Space Force, and when they do get recruits, they get a tablet to study right before basic training,” he said. “We want to start them off right and get them educated before they ship off for basic training.”

Former President Donald Trump officially established Space Force when he signed the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. 

President Joe Biden’s administration has offered its “full support” of the Space Force program. 

“We are not revisiting the decision to establish the Space Force,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said recently. “The desire for the Department of Defense to focus greater attention and resources on the growing security challenges in space has long been a bipartisan issue. … Thousands of men and women proudly serve in the Space Force. It was established by Congress and any other steps would actually have to be taken by Congress, not by the administration.”

The present crop of Space Force recruits is going through basic training at an Air Force base in San Antonio, Bergdorf said. 

Bergdorf said he has spoken to high school students and their parents who have visited the Summit Township armed services recruiting center to ask questions about the Space Force program.

He expects some of those students to return to his office to further discuss the Space Force program after they graduate in the spring. 

Bergdorf said he knows of at least one recruit from the Erie region who committed to the Space Force program in November. 

Prospective recruits hoping to enter Space Force need to be skilled in particular areas and must meet certain criteria.

“They should have a strong background in physics, mathematics, chemistry, programming, S.T.E.M. courses and advanced courses,” Bergdorf said.

Air Force recruits must be ages 18-39, have a high school diploma and have no major law violations, Bergdorf said. 

“Space Force is in its infancy,” Bergdorf said. “Right now, it’s space systems and operations, missile tracking and satellite tracking, basically monitoring everything that’s going on in space and making sure all our satellites are spaced apart.”

Bergdorf said he is seeing and hearing of a 50/50 nationwide split from prospective male and female recruits who are expressing Space Force interest.  

“Everybody at least asks a question whether they’re here for the Air Force or the Space Force,” he said. “They ask what kind of jobs are available for Space Force. I’m looking for people who are motivated for space, show an interest and have a really deep interest in the space platform and Space Force.”


White House says Space Force has ‘full support’

The White House offered its “full support” for the Space Force on Wednesday, one day after Press Secretary Jen Psaki provoked a backlash with seemingly dismissive comments about the Trump-era addition to the U.S. military. (Feb. 3)


Core Space Force jobs encompass mechanical engineering, power generation, security/law enforcement, computer programming, software engineers and intelligence and cybersecurity fields. 

Bergdorf expects Space Force recruiting interest to pique in late spring and early summer when high school students graduate. 

“With Space Force, if you get into that, you’re going to be a part of history,” Bergdorf said. “That’s what everybody wants to be, at least the people who are already in the service. They’re like, ‘Oh, wow. That’s the new branch, that’s the new, exciting tip of the spear, as we like to say in the military.’ Space Force is out front and that’s where a lot of the attention is going right now.”

Contact Ron Leonardi at Follow him on Twitter @ETNLeonardi.

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