The 14th Air Force, which is headquartered at Vandenberg Air Force Base, has been officially redesignated as Space Operations Command in support of the U.S. Space Force that was established this month by President Donald Trump.
The move was formally approved by Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett effective Dec. 20, which was the same date that Trump signed the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, officially establishing the U.S. Space Force as the sixth branch of the U.S. armed forces.
Air Force military and civilian personnel that were previously assigned to the 14th Air Force are now assigned to Space Operations Command by virtue of the redesignation action. The Space Operations Command directly supports the U.S. Space Force’s mission to protect the interests of the U.S. in space, as well as to deter aggression in, from and to space, and to conduct space operations.
Maj. Gen. John E. Shaw, former commander of the 14th Air Force, was named commander of Space Operations Command. Shaw also serves as U.S. Space Command’s Combined Force Space Component commander.
Less than a month after it was revealed that Vandenberg Air Force Base was under consideration to host a new remotely piloted aircraft wing, Air Force leaders converged on the Lompoc Valley recently to share details on what that wing would entail.
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“It is an honor and privilege to lead the U.S. Space Force’s Space Operations Command,” Shaw said, according to a statement released by Space Operations Command Public Affairs. “Every day, all around the world, people count on us to make a difference — to provide precise and decisive space effects that keep our country, our allies, and our partners safe. We will not let them down.”
The Space Operations Command provides space capabilities such as space domain awareness, space electronic warfare, satellite communications, missile warning, nuclear detonation detection, environmental monitoring, military intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, navigation warfare, command and control, and positioning, navigation and timing.
About 16,000 Air Force active duty and civilian personnel will reportedly be assigned to the Space Force while the branch is gradually integrated into the U.S. Armed Forces, according to the Air Force.
More information about the new roles of the Space Operations Command and the Space Force is expected to be released in the coming months.
Although the U.S. Air Force has yet to select a headquarters for its planned U.S. Space Command operation, military leaders have revealed that one of the new command’s major components will be housed at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.