US Space Force activates first field command

Stephen Kuper

US Space Force Chief of Space Operations General John Raymond has formally announced the established Space Operations Command, the US Space Force’s first of three field commands.

US Space Force activates first field command
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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.

Lieutenant General Stephen Whiting, who was 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.

Gen Raymond said, “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.


“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 happening.” 

Lt Gen Whiting reinforced the comments of Gen Raymond, saying, “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 organisations – the new armed service and combatant command alike.

“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 capability.”

During the ceremony, Major General John Shaw, commander of the Air Force’s SpOC and Combined Forces Space Component Command, and Chief Master Sergeant John Bentivegna, command chief of the Air Force’s SpOC, furled and cased the former 14th Air Force command flag.


“This is an appropriate time to acknowledge that what we are doing is significant. It’s history in the making today. 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,” Gen Raymond said.

The 14AF was established on 10 March 1943, and conducted fighter and bomber operations over occupied Chinese territory in the China-Burma-India Theatre during World War II. It is credited with destroying more than 2,300 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.

AFSPC was redesignated as USSF 20 December 2019, when the National Defense Authorization Act was signed into law, thereby creating the new service. AFSPC was established on 1 September 1982, to serve as the operational command to oversee the Air Force’s efforts in space.

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.

Lt Gen Whiting said, “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.

“No matter what changes we encounter, our attention will be laser-locked on our unit, our mission, and our calling.”

The ceremony concluded with unveiling the SpOC emblem, and Bentivegna and lower echelon command teams rendering salutes to report for duty. The garrison and delta mission commands established in July now report to SpOC.

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