The 14th Air Force – previously the Air Force component to U.S. Strategic Command for space operations – last month was redesignated as the Space Operations Command (SPOC) under the nascent U.S. Space Force.
The SPOC will provide space capabilities including space domain awareness, space electronic warfare, satellite communications and missile warning for U.S. Space Command and other combatant commanders on behalf of the Air Force, the service said Dec. 30. It will also supply nuclear detonation detection, environmental monitoring, military intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), navigation warfare, command and control, and positioning, navigation and timing (PNT).
As part of the redesignation, 14th Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. John Shaw is now SPOC commander. He is dual-hatted as the commander of the Combined Force Space Component Command (CFSCC) under U.S. Space Command, which the Pentagon reestablished in August 2019 as a geographic combatant command responsible for space operations.
The CFSCC is responsible for the planning and delivery of space capabilities for global space operations and is one of two major components of U.S. Space Command, along with the Joint Task Force Space Defense, whose role is to coordinate with the intelligence community to deter aggression, defend space capabilities and, if necessary, defeat adversaries, the Air Force said last fall.
“It is an honor and privilege to lead the U.S. Space Force’s Space Operations Command. 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,” Shaw said in a release. “We will not let them down.”
The numbered Air Force, headquartered at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, was activated in its current iteration in 1993 under Air Force Space Command. Air Force Space Command’s personnel and responsibilities became the U.S. Space Force, the sixth branch of the U.S. military sitting under the Air Force, as part of the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act signed into law Dec. 20 (Defense Daily, Dec. 20, 2019).
The Pentagon and the Air Force expect to take about 18 months to fully stand up the new Space Force. The FY ’21 presidential budget request, due to be released in February, will include a separate budget line for the new branch. Budget documents from December 2019 viewed by Defense Daily show that the Air Force plans to eventually transfer about $9.3 billion worth of space-related weapons systems and operations to the Space Force (Defense Daily, Dec. 11, 2019).