Multiple Air Force Base Names to be Changed to “Space Base”
On New Year’s Eve, 2019, the 14th Air Force at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California was among the first units to be renamed as part of President Trump’s 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which established the Space Force as the sixth branch of the U.S. military. What’s the unit’s new name? The Space Operations Command (SPOC).
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But the Air Force isn’t done restructuring to accommodate the Space Force. In the coming months, several U.S. Air Force bases could get new names, according to General John “Jay” Raymond, commander of U.S. Space Command. Raymond will serve as the first chief of space operations (CSO) in charge of the U.S. Space Force.
Speaking with reporters on December 20, Raymond said, “We’ll work to rename those [bases] to match the mission of the base.”
Renaming Air Force bases that have a significant space mission is one of the recommendations by the Space Force Planning Task Force “to show visible progress towards the establishment of the Space Force.”
Renaming a Military Base Is No Small Task
Swapping out the words “Air Force Base” for “Space Base” seems like an easy enough task, until you consider the logistics involved.
The new name involves signage from all over the base, including the front gate, headquarters building, some “no trespassing” signs, some units, the base gym, base housing, the chapel and the youth center. In essence, roughly anything with the words “Air Force” will have to be redesigned, repurchased and reinstalled.
Image courtesy Peterson.af.mil
In addition, all base public relations advertising and marketing material will have to be redesigned and republished. This includes digital and print marketing materials and may also include purchasing a new domain name for the official .mil website. Base magazines, brochures, and even the base phone directory would have to be renamed and reprinted.
And finally, new unit patches may have to be ordered and embroidered for the base’s tens of thousands of airmen to reflect the base’s new role as a space-focused organization. This includes not only various units, but the security forces and fire departments as well.
Which Bases Are Scheduled for a Name Change?
There are multiple bases that are scheduled for a name change.
Peterson Air Force Base
Photo taken at the 2019 NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center on Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, Dec 24, 2019. Image courtesy Peterson.af.mil
Home to the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, the 21st Space Wing is the Air Force’s most geographically dispersed wing. It is also the fifth-largest wing in the Air Force by number of units.
The 21st Space Wing provides missile warning and space control to North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Strategic Command. It operates through a network of command and control units and ground and space-based sensors operated by geographically separated units around the world.
Schriever Air Force Base
Chris Jackson, 4th Space Operations Squadron, senior satellite systems engineer, explains basic terminology and functionality of the Military Strategic and Tactical Relay/Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite constellation to 50th Operations Support Squadron students at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado on January 10, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Idalí Beltré Acevedo)
Home to the 50th Space Wing, the 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron and the 25th Space Range Squadron among others, Schriever Air Force Base makes the list to be renamed.
Vandenberg Air Force Base
An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at 1:13 a.m. Pacific Time, October 2, 2019, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The test demonstrates the United States’ nuclear deterrent is robust, flexible, ready and approximately tailored to deter twenty-first century threats and reassure our allies. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. J.T. Armstrong)
Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, is headquarters for the 30th Space Wing. The 30th Space Wing manages Department of Defense space and missile testing, and places satellites into polar orbit from the West Coast, using expendable boosters (Delta II, Pegasus, Taurus, Minotaur, Atlas V and Delta IV). Wing personnel also support the Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Force Development Evaluation program.
Because of their unique, space-based mission, Vandenberg will likely be renamed.
Patrick Air Force Base
People watch an Atlas V AEHF-5 rocket launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on August 8, 2019. Previously, the Atlas V rocket has launched Advanced Extremely High Frequency communication satellites from CCAFS in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dalton Williams)
The 45th Space Wing is a United States Space Force unit. It is assigned to the Space Operations Command and stationed at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida. It commands Patrick AFB and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. As a result, Patrick AFB will likely receive a name change as well.
Welcome to the Space Force
While the military won’t be sending Space Force personnel to the stars anytime soon, the mission has never been more important. The U.S. Space Command’s 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 for space-related missions.
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. And while they may not be issued lightsabers upon joining, new Space Force personnel can expect an ongoing and challenging mission to ensure that the U.S. maintains its space superiority.
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