Thrilled to be onboard

  • Published
  • By Col. John Shaw
  • 21st Space Wing commander
For those of you I have not met yet, let me take this opportunity to shake your hand virtually until I get the chance to do so in person. My name is John Shaw. I am a husband. I am a father. I am, among other things, a fitness nut, an outdoors enthusiast, a space and tech geek, an amateur historian, futurist, and philosopher. I am an Airman in the world's greatest Air Force. I'm also very honored and thrilled to be commander of the 21st Space Wing. There's no place I'd rather be!

Why is that? In my view, the 21st Space Wing is probably THE premier Air Force wing of the 21st century. The national security missions we support or execute are of the greatest strategic importance to our nation, and are likely to be so for decades to come.

First, there's homeland defense. As we observed at the very beginning of this century in 2001, our homeland is subject to an ever-growing array of threats, from terrorism to ballistic missiles to weapons of mass destruction. On Peterson Air Force Base, we directly support the headquarters of United States Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, whose very missions are defense of the homeland and the continent. Further, our operations within Cheyenne Mountain and at our missile warning sites across the globe are fundamental to homeland defense. We in the 21st Space Wing are dedicated guardians of our homeland, and will continue to be so as we advance through the century.

But another mission of growing strategic importance is space situational awareness. As the space domain becomes more congested and competitive, the need to understand exactly what is in orbit becomes more important. All spacefaring activities - from commercial ventures to scientific endeavors to national security activities - increasingly rely on the 21st Space Wing to operate safely and effectively. In a sense, we are enabling further expansion and diversity of human activities into space in this century, by making it safer and less risky to do so.

Then there's space control. As more and more human activities move into space, ensuring security in the space domain requires more than just situational awareness. We will also need to protect our space capabilities, and thereby protect and enable our military forces, wherever they are engaged on the globe. The 21st Space Wing is also our nation's expert on space control, and this mission set is certain to grow in scope and importance - alongside space activities in general - in the years ahead.

But that's only part of why I'm so honored and excited to be here. In the end, of course, the best reason of all is each of you... the men and women of the 21st Space Wing. You are striving every day to execute these 21st century strategic mission areas of homeland defense, space situational awareness and space control. I'm thrilled to be part of this winning team, I'm looking forward to meeting and working with all of you, and I can't wait to see what future challenges - and successes - lay in store for us as this century unfolds. It will be a most excellent adventure!