WASHINGTON — The No. 2 official assigned to the U.S. Space Force is getting his chance to officially join the new service.

Air Force Lt. Gen. David “DT” Thompson was tapped as the Space Force’s vice chief of space operations and for promotion to the rank of general, the Pentagon announced Friday.

Thompson previously held the position of vice commander of Air Force Space Command, which was dissolved in December and redesignated as the U.S. Space Force.

Although he became a de facto deputy to Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond in recent months — with Thompson involved in standing up the new service as well as explaining its role to the public— he works for Space Force headquarters without technically being a member.

During the Air Force Association conference in February, Thompson spoke about the importance of building the new space service. He revealed that a crew assigned to the Space Force at Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado, had detected that Iran on Jan. 2, 2020, launched a missile inbound for Al Asad Air Force Base in Iraq. One particular crew member was tasked with relaying information on the threat to U.S. troops at Al Asad.

“If she had not detected that launch, determined where it was, where it was going and who was under threat and released warning messages that got to the 300 plus Americans at Al Asad Air Base, I’m firmly convinced we’d be talking today about dead Americans,” Thompson said, according to an Air Force release.

A graduate of the Air Force Academy and lifelong space operator, Thompson has held command positions as head of 45th Operations Group at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, from 2005 to 2007, and he led the Aerospace Data Facility at Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado, from 2007 to 2009. He served as director of space forces at U.S. Air Forces Central Command from 2009 to 2010, and was vice commander of the Air Force Warfare Center from 2010 to 2011.

Before becoming the vice commander of Air Force Space Command in June 2015, he held positions at U.S. Strategic Command as the deputy director of global operations from 2011 to 2014, and then the director of plans and policy.

As an engineer by trade, he has worked on experimental rocket propulsion efforts and helped lead military satellite and space lift programs over the course of his career.

Valerie Insinna is Defense News' air warfare reporter. She previously worked the Navy/congressional beats for Defense Daily, which followed almost three years as a staff writer for National Defense Magazine. Prior to that, she worked as an editorial assistant for the Tokyo Shimbun’s Washington bureau.

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