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News | Jan. 24, 2022

Navy selects JTF-SD member to be among first Maritime Space Officers

By Jennifer Thibault

The U.S. Navy selected Joint Task Force-Space Defense member Cmdr. Jason Elfe, deputy chief of operations capabilities and integration section, as one of its first Maritime Space Officers making good on their intent to professionalize space integration in the service while providing the framework to build and deploy space expertise needed in the multi-domain fight.

Elfe was one of five officers selected in the command among the first 25 selects for the Navy’s newest designator.

“The Navy has always recognized the importance of space but they’ve never had a dedicated career path for it until now,” said Elfe, who piloted MH60R helicopters and served as a test pilot prior to his position within the JTF-SD.

The Navy announced its first board to select the first MSOs in August with the results released Jan. 13.

“Establishing the Maritime Space Officer community is a huge step in building the space technical proficiency the Navy needs to maintain naval superiority now and into the future,” said Vice Adm. Kelly Aeschbach, Commander, Naval Information Forces, in the published board announcement. “This move is critical in establishing a community of Navy space experts who can be intentionally managed and detailed to key Navy and Joint assignments.”

As part of his transition to be an MSO, Elfe will no longer fly for the Navy.

“At this point in my career, the flying opportunities decline so even though flying was my main motivation for serving, now is a good time to transition to something else I am interested in,” he said.

It’s more of an “interest” to be sure.  Elfe has applied twice to be a NASA astronaut.

“Those didn’t work out but I have always been interested in space. I followed NASA and SpaceX missions and it’s amazing the things they’ve done,” said Elfe.

In his current role for nearly 2 years, Elfe turns his hobby into a career while applying his experience to further the development of space capabilities.

“I’ve been involved in a lot of exercises here to push the envelope and in my previous test pilot time I learned how to work with developers to make sure programs are as mission effective as possible,” he said.

While Elfe continues to advance space capabilities in his role here, he’s also amassing space experience that will fuel integrated deterrence in future assignments.

“The establishment of the MSO community allows us to leverage the unique talents of our personnel to ensure the Navy keeps pace with the rapidly maturing government and Department of Defense space enterprise,” said Vice Adm. John B. Nowell Jr, Chief of Naval Personnel, said in the published board announcement. “This designator will allow for a specialized community of experts to professionally grow, promote and compete for space jobs in their area of expertise—tenants of our Detailing Marketplace and Sailor 2025 initiatives.”

U.S. Space Command’s additional MSO selects are Capt. Gregory Arnold, Cmdr. Lora Gorsky, Lt. Cmdr. Scott Ader and Lt. Cmdr. David Packnick.

“These sailors will integrate into our operations to help deter, compete and win against our nation’s most formidable competitors in space,” said U.S. Army Gen. Jim Dickinson, USSPACECOM commander. “All joint partnerships across the Department of Defense are pertinent to continue projecting global power with space capabilities.”

The Navy held an out of cycle board for this initial tranche of MSOs, future officers will selected through the semi-annual officer lateral transfer board process.