WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force officially has its first field command, after the service redesignated Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado as the new headquarters of Space Operations Command during an Oct. 21 ceremony.
“The establishment of Space Operations Command adds powerful depth to our collective space combat capability,” said Gen. James Dickinson, head of U.S. Space Command “Make no mistake, we are the best in the world in space. With the stand up of Space Operations Command today, we are even better aligned to deliver combat power more effectively.”
Space Operations Command (SpOC) is one of three field commands — alongside Space Systems Command and the Space Training and Readiness Command — the Space Force is establishing. Space Systems Command will be in charge of developing, acquiring and sustaining systems for the service, while Space Training and Readiness Command will provide training and education to the service’s space professionals.
SpOC oversees the operations of the nation’s military satellites. It’s portfolio includes the GPS constellation, missile warning satellites and the various communications satellites that provide war fighters with global connectivity. SpOC is also the Space Force’s service component to U.S. Space Command, ensuring that the 11th combatant command can utilize the services broad array of on orbit platforms.
Shortly after the Space Force was established in Dec. 2019, the 14th Air Force was redesignated as Space Operations Command.
With the new designation of Peterson AFB as SpOC headquarters, the former home of the command, Vandenberg AFB, was activated as SpOC West. SpOC West will retain its mission as U.S. Space Command’s Combined Force Space Component Command, where it provides space war fighting support to the combatant commanders, joint force and coalition partners.
Newly promoted Gen. Stephen N. Whiting, who has been serving as the deputy commander of Space Force headquarters, will lead the new command.
“He is the right leader to become the first commander of the Space Operations Command field command and to accelerate the transformation of space operations,” said Space Force Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond at the ceremony. “Gen. Whiting has mastered command at nearly every echelon, from the 13th Space Warning Squadron in Clear, Alaska, to the 21st Space Wing here at Peterson, to our first commander of the Combined Force Space Component Command.”
Raymond also credited Whiting and his team with standing up the provisional headquarters for U.S. Space Command, the recently reestablished 11th combatant command, and developing the Space Force’s first doctrine: Space Power.
“At this pivotal moment in history, I can think of no more consequential place to serve than in Space Operations Command as we do our part to build our new service while providing our combatant command the majority of the tools it needs to ensure the protection and defense of the United States and allied interests in space,” said Whiting.
Nathan Strout was the staff editor at C4ISRNET, where he covered the intelligence community.