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Plans move ahead for new U.S. Space Command | Military

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The Air Force is well underway in building a new headquarters for satellite troops, and U.S. Space Command will be ready to launch this year, the service announced.

Details on the headquarters and new plans to prepare for battle in orbit were unveiled by Air Force Space Command during a conference held at Vandenberg Air Force Base this month, the command said.

“The establishment of U.S. Space Command is our top priority. It will elevate the strategic value of our operations and support our mission to defend vital national interests in space,” Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting, who leads Space Command’s 14th Air Force, told the gathering.

U.S. Space Command, now being formed in Colorado Springs, will lead the satellite efforts of all military services while overseeing defense of American military satellites and combat in space. President Donald Trump ordered the command into existence late last year and in March named Colorado Springs Air Force Gen. Jay Raymond to lead it.

The command is seen by many as a down payment on Trump’s proposed Space Force, a separate military branch for satellite troops.

Colorado Springs is a leading candidate to permanently house the command. The Air Force confirmed last week that three of the six locations named finalists to house the command are in the Pikes Peak region. Another finalist is Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora. The Colorado sites will battle with Vandenberg in California and Redstone Arsenal in Alabama as the Air Force makes a final selection.

Whiting, a former commander of Peterson’s 21st Space Wing, said getting the command up and running “will also strengthen our strategic deterrence through the provision of space warfighting options that preserve U.S. and allied competitive advantage, and promote security and stability.”

While the command won’t have the binational flavor of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, it will lead U.S. efforts to build a coalition to assure safety in space.

Right now, key allies including Britain are working with the 14th Air Force at Vandenberg’s Joint Space Operations Center. Allies are also being enrolled at Space Command’s schoolhouse at Peterson, which teaches classes from introductory courses to high-level space defense.

The Pentagon threw a bit of cold water on excitement about the new command last week, saying it will be slow to start.

“The exact length of the transition period from establishment to full operational capability is uncertain, but will be based on milestones rather than time-based, and will likely take a few years,” the Defense Department said in an email statement.

Still, for people in the space business, the new command is something to cheer.

“This is an exciting time and I’m looking forward to working even closer with allies and partners to guarantee unfettered access to and freedom to operate in space,” Whiting said.

Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240 Twitter: @xroederx

Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240

Twitter: @xroederx

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