The 14th Air Force, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, has been renamed. It will now live long and prosper as Space Operations Command, or SPOC, according to a recent service announcement.
The change was made in accordance with the transition from Air Force Space Command to the U.S. Space Force, effective Dec. 20 when President Donald Trump signed the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), establishing Space Force as the sixth branch of the U.S. military.
"Every day, all around the planet, people count on us to make a difference -- to provide a space-enabled combat edge to the warfighters that keep our country, our allies, and our partners safe. We will not let them down," Maj. Gen. John E. Shaw, commander of the newly redesignated SPOC, said in the release.
Shaw is also U.S. Space Command's Combined Force Space Component Commander.
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SPOC will assume the majority of the mission previously held by the 14th Air Force, including operational command and control.
Additional responsibilities include "space domain awareness, space electronic warfare, satellite communications, missile warning, nuclear detonation detection, environmental monitoring, military intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), navigation warfare, and positioning, navigation and timing" on behalf of the Space Force (USSF), Space Command (USSPACECOM) and other combatant commands, the release states.
Roughly 16,000 active-duty and civilian personnel who used to make up units within Air Force Space Command are now assigned to the Space Force.
During the NDAA signing ceremony, Trump appointed Gen. Jay Raymond as the first chief of Space Operations. Raymond, who also leads U.S. Space Command, will report to the secretary of the Air Force and sit as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Over the next 18 months, Air Force officials will identify more personnel to transfer branches and become part of the U.S. Space Force.
Within 60 days, the service will reach out to uniformed airmen "to inform them whether their specialty code is organic to the Space Force, organic to the Air Force, or shared between Air Force and Space Forces," according to a Space Force factsheet.
Ahead of the NDAA's signing, Raymond told reporters that plans are in motion to redesignate Air Force units with a space-only mission, and realign bases for the space mission.
That includes various Colorado facilities, including Buckley Air Force Base, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Peterson Air Force Base and Schriever Air Force Base, as well as the Army's Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, Vandenberg, and Patrick Air Force Base in Florida.
For example, "Patrick Air Force Base" may be renamed "Patrick Space Base," or something to that effect, the general said during a briefing at the Pentagon.
While the U.S. Space Force will be headquartered at the Pentagon, some of those bases are under consideration to house the Defense Department's newest unified combatant command, U.S. Space Command, which is responsible for planning and conducting space military operations.
A large portion of SPACECOM's work is currently being conducted at Peterson, which was originally home to the now-defunct Air Force Space Command.
-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.
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