Lt. Gen. Stephen N. Whiting’s Final Salute to Space Operations Command

  • Published
  • By Lt. Gen. Stephen N. Whiting

As I bid farewell to the exceptional men and women of SpOC, I am reminded of the proud history that has brought us to this moment.  We owe our existence to space pioneers like General Bernard Schriever and General Jay Raymond, whose contributions led to the establishment of the Space Force.  General Schriever played a central role to advance the U.S. Air Force's ballistic missile capabilities and extended his vision to the realm of space by developing many of our nation’s first satellite systems, setting the foundation for the U.S. military's space programs.  Gen Raymond served as the final Air Force Space Command commander, while simultaneously standing U.S. Space Command back up, and then assumed leadership of our new Service when it was stood up on short notice just over 4 years ago.  Their legacy, and that of thousands upon thousands of military space professionals who went before us, has propelled the United States to preserve freedom of action in the space domain and to use space to enable Joint lethality and effectiveness. 
As a new year unfolds, I’m filled with a sense of gratitude for the extraordinary journey we’ve taken in SpOC together over the past three years, celebrating the exceptional accomplishments and successes we’ve collectively achieved. We've witnessed the unique role of SpOC unfold within the United States Space Force, our nation’s sixth and newest Armed Service. In space, when a star comes to the end of its life, it can explode and create a nebula, a giant cloud of dust and gas in space from which new stars are birthed.  Similarly, when Air Force Space Command ceased to exist, from its remnants, a new Service was birthed, and a new Field Command, Space Operations Command, was created that would ultimately give birth to additional commands as new mission areas matured.
As the Space Force’s fight-tonight force, SpOC generated, presented, and sustained Space Deltas, adopted a Deputy Commanding General structure, laid the groundwork for Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM) by way of STARCOM Delta (Provisional), transferred the DoD’s operational launch enterprise to Space Systems Command, and stood up numerous new Deltas, Squadrons, and Detachments as missions were created, matured, or transferred from other Services. Up until last month, SpOC also served at the nexus between the Space Force and U.S. Space Command, a role now assumed by United States Space Forces-Space (S4S), the Service’s newest Component Field Command.
These organizational achievements represent a small fraction of the extensive list of our successes, which included executing our vital missions during a consequential time in world history as Russia invaded Ukraine in the heart of Europe and Israel was attacked by terrorists.  At all times, you executed intelligence-led, cyber-secure, space and installation operations that supported the Joint Force, our Nation, and our Allies.  When asked what I'll miss most as the SpOC Commander, the answer is clear – our people. 
Without our Guardians and Airmen, we would never be the Space Force our Nation needs.  I’m reminded of my trip to Europe just over a year ago, where I witnessed the remarkable members of Space Deltas 3 and 7 in their deployed environment; all committed to the mission and supporting one another while integrating, synchronizing, and executing operations for U.S., Allied, and coalition forces.  I’ve also seen our ranks strengthened by more than 600 Guardians who began their careers in Services other than the Air Force, bringing a wealth of skills acquired from their unique and varied backgrounds while improving our combat credibility. 
We could not conduct space operations without our Airmen, Allies, and partners. Professional Airmen assigned to HQ SpOC and our Space Deltas, as well as Space Base Deltas 1 and 2, are foundational members of the SpOC team, 365 days a year, supporting operations from inside our mission units and on our power projection platforms—the installations from which the Space Force conducts our vital missions.  Space is inherently a collaborative effort, and our partnerships extended across Joint, coalition, international, interagency, academia, and commercial organizations, constituting one of our most significant advantages.  International partnerships, such as those within numerous squadrons across many of our Deltas in which Allied personnel work actively side by side with our Guardians on our Ops floors, ensure we are able to protect America and our Allies in, from, and to and into the future. Certainly, our most vital asset is our people.  Thank you to all the Guardians and Airmen, military and civilian alike, for all you have done to promote SpOC’s no-fail mission.  Tammy and I extend our heartfelt thanks to each one of you and your families for your unwavering commitment, sacrifice, and service.  Serving with you has been a privilege and honor. 
SpOC’s future is bright, and I look forward to witnessing the amazing things you will continue to do under the leadership of Lieutenant General Miller and Chief Master Sergeant Lloyd. 
Via Vincimus and God bless the men and women of Space Operations Command.
Semper Supra!