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Bye bye, Vandenberg Air Force Base. Hello, Vandenberg … Space Force Base?

Air Force Space Command (US Air Force/Released)

As Vandenberg Air Force Base continues its push to be at the forefront of America’s space-related activities, it could soon be getting a name change.

Vandenberg officials on Thursday confirmed that the base near Lompoc is in talks to be renamed to better reflect its involvement in the fledgling Space Force branch of the military, though they did not specify exactly what the new name might be.

“We are currently exploring options for the many characteristics of culture that will define the U.S. Space Force,” officials wrote in an email to The Tribune. “In support of that effort, we are following a deliberate process to ensure the naming of installations hosting U.S. Space Force facilities and personnel accurately represents the space professionals and missions that reside there.”

The email added that a public announcement about the name change is pending stakeholder notifications.

Though Vandenberg officials were mum on the specifics Thursday, the Air Force has confirmed at least two other bases in Florida will transition to Space Force-related names.

According to Florida Today, Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station will become Patrick Space Force Base and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, respectively, this month.

U.S. Air Force Gen. Jay Raymond, who will be the first chief of space operations for Space Force, told Business Insider in December 2019 that the organization has a plan to “rename the principal Air Force bases that house space unit to be space bases.”

What is Space Force?

Space Force was signed into law on Dec. 20, 2019. It’s the first new United States military service established in more than 70 years; the Air Force was established in 1947.

The branch’s mission is to “protect the interests of the United States in space; deter aggression in, from and to space; and conduct space operations,” according to a Vandenberg news release.

Before the branch was created last year, Vandenberg had already secured an important component of its precursor. The Combined Forces Space Component Command, which was officially established at Vandenberg on Oct. 1, 2019, supported U.S. military operations in space with services like satellite communications, missile warning, nuclear detonation detection, environmental monitoring and other responsibilities.

It served as a component of U.S. Space Command, a combatant command in charge of space warfare created in August.

That command was redesignated as the U.S. Space Force on Dec. 20 — though it technically continues to exist as its own combatant command for the time being.

Confusing? A little. The briefest explanation is that Space Force will not be in charge of putting combat troops in space. Instead, it provides forces (i.e. people) and assets to Space Command, which is in charge of actual warfare.

Space Force’s mission in general is more technical, and less combat-related.

In the meantime, thousands of Space Command personnel became part of Space Force — including at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The base’s 14th Space Wing unit was renamed Space Operations Command. Its mission is now to “support the U.S. Space Force’s mission to protect the interests of the United States in space; deter aggression in, from and to space; and conduct space operations,” according to a Dec. 27, 2019 news release.

The U.S. Space Force is still in its very earliest stages. Staffing and training details are expected to be figured out in the coming year.


© 2020 The Tribune