Lt. Gen. Stephen N. Whiting, first
commander of the newly re-designated Space Operations Command, receives his
first salute as commander from the Space Delta and Garrison commanders and
senior enlisted advisors during a ceremony at Peterson Air Force Base,
Colo., Oct 21, 2020. Whiting is now the commander of SpOC responsible for
organizing, training, and equipping fielded space forces who will execute
space warfighting operations for combatant commanders, coalition partners,
the joint force, and the nation. SpOC is the first of three Space Force
Field Commands. (U.S. Space Force Photo by SSgt Justin Armstrong)
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In an activation ceremony
at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, today, Chief of Space Operations Gen.
John “Jay” Raymond established Space Operations Command, the U.S. Space
Force’s first of three field commands.
Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting, who
promoted earlier in the day, assumed command of the new unit, which is
mostly formed from the former Air Force units 14th Air Force and
Air Force Space Command.
“As the primary force provider for United
States Space Command, you are charged to lead space operations out of this
pivot-point, to accelerate the transformation necessary to compete, deter
and win a modern conflict, to prepare for war that either begins or extends
into space,” Raymond said. “I’m convinced a war in space will be fought at
high speeds and over great distances. We must be fast and agile, and we must
focus on our primary mission, and that’s to deter that conflict from
Raymond and Whiting both talked about the decades of
heritage inherited by this new organization and its role in preparing
warfighters for the space domain.
“Let’s be clear: it’s the decades
of faithful, dedicated, and unparalleled space operations that you, and
those who have come before you, have provided which are the foundation of
all our new organizations – the new armed service and combatant command
alike,” Whiting said. “Our charter is to focus exclusively on generating,
presenting, and sustaining combat-ready space forces – and those forces will
include intelligence, cyber, space operations, and combat support elements.
We are structured explicitly for the function of providing space warfighting
With the stand-up of SpOC, the Air Force unit named
Space Operations Command at Vandenberg AFB, California, was redesignated as
SpOC West, which retains its mission of conducting, integrating, and
assessing global space operations in order to deliver combat-relevant space
capabilities to combatant commanders, coalition partners, the joint force,
and the nation.
“The first step in the organizational changes you
are about to witness in the redesignation and assumption of command, is to
recognize the inactivation of what we know today as Space Operations
Command, Vandenberg AFB, the former 14th Air Force, as it transitions to
Space Operations Command West,” said Col. Mark Sorapuru, the narrator for
During the ceremony, Maj. Gen. John Shaw, commander of
the Air Force’s SpOC and Combined Forces Space Component Command, and Chief
Master Sgt. John Bentivegna, command chief of the Air Force’s SpOC, furled
and cased the former 14th Air Force command flag.
an appropriate time to acknowledge that what we are doing is significant.
It’s history in the making today,” Raymond said. “This ceremony is about you
the Space Professionals who under the Air Force Space Command and 14th Air
Force flags, built the world’s best national security space enterprise.”
The 14AF was established March 10, 1943, and
conducted fighter and bomber operations over occupied Chinese territory in
the China-Burma-India Theater during World War II. It is credited with
destroying more than 2300 enemy aircraft during the war. After standing down
in 1960, it was reactivated as 14th Aerospace Force in 1968 to
detect foreign missile launches and track objects in space. It moved to
Vandenberg and joined then Air Force Space Command in 1993.
creation of the United States Space Force, the 14 AF was re-designated Space
Operations Command,” Sorapuru said. “Now, its colors are furled, and the
illustrious aviation lineage and honors of this organization are returned to
the United States Air Force.
Following the furling of the 14AF flag,
Raymond and Chief Master Sgt. Roger A. Towberman, senior enlisted advisor,
U.S. Space Force, took the stage to furl the Air Force Space Command flag as
the last command team to lead that organization.
redesignated as USSF Dec. 20, 2019, when the National Defense Authorization
Act was signed into law, thereby creating the new service. AFSPC was
established Sept. 1, 1982, to serve as the operational command to oversee
the Air Force’s efforts in space.
“Over the ensuing years, Air Force
Space Command focused on consolidating and organizing space capabilities to
improve operations,” said Sorapuru. “Its first major test came in 1990-1991,
when the command provided space capabilities to the warfighter during
Operation Desert Storm, in what many have called the First Space War.”
AFSPC continued to focus on improving space support to the warfighter
through the 90s through the creation of the USSF and being redesignated as
USSF. Now it is being redesignated once again to meet the needs of the
nation to deliver space capabilities to the joint force.
hundreds of thousands of men and women who have served in Air Force Space
Command and to the officers who have commanded that prestigious organization
… rest assured that the history and heritage of Air Force Space Command will
live on in the Space Operations Command,” Sorapuru said.
retiring the two Air Force units, the field command SpOC was officially
activated, and Whiting stepped into his new positon as commander. “Sir, I
assume command of Space Operations Command,” Whiting said to Raymond.
“Even as we grapple with the extraordinary challenges brought by the
establishment of our new Service, the United States Space Force, and our new
Field Command, Space Operations Command, you can always find grounding in
this three-part focus,” Whiting said. “No matter what changes we encounter,
our attention will be laser-locked on our unit, our mission, and our
The ceremony concluded with unveiling the SpOC emblem, and
Bentivegna and lower echelon command teams rendering salutes to report for
The garrison and delta mission commands established in July now
report to SpOC.