21st SW welcomes new commander

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Col. Chris Crawford took command of the 21st Space Wing from Col. Stephen N. Whiting in a ceremony here today.

Colonel Crawford comes to Peterson AFB from the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., where he served as chief, Current Operations Division, Deputy Directorate for Command, Control and Nuclear Operations, J-3, Joint Staff. He led a 100-plus person division charged with supporting and executing National Military Command Center operations. He also served as the primary alternate deputy director for Operations, the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff current operations focal point during national emergencies, military crises, and civil disturbances.

Colonel Crawford is not new to Colorado Springs. This is his fifth time in Colorado Springs, the fourth time he's lived on Peterson AFB and his third assignment in the 21st SW. In addition to his current assignment, he also served as the 21st Operations Group commander here from June 2007 to June 2009. Additionally, he served on the Front Range as the commander of the 50th Operations Support Squadron and, earlier in his career, in the 3rd Space Operations Squadron on Schriever AFB. As a captain, the commander was part of Air Force Space Command Headquarters here. Colonel Crawford spent his time as a student on Lowry AFB, as well as in the 1013th Combat Crew Training Squadron in Colorado Springs. Nearly one-half of Colonel Crawford's career has been in the 21st SW or working programs in direct support of the wing at higher headquarters.

As commander of the 21st SW, the colonel is responsible for the Air Force's largest wing geographically and organizationally. The wing consists of a work force of about 5,000 officer, enlisted, civilian and contract employees. Spanning the globe, this team provides missile warning and space control for combat forces and the national command authorities of the United States and Canada.

" The 21st SW Airmen directly support today's joint warfighter by providing missile warning, space situational awareness, and expeditionary forces to support overseas contingency operations," said Gen. William L. Shelton, Air Force Space Command commander. "The wing contributes to robust space situational awareness by detecting, tracking and cataloging more than 22,000 objects in space. Space situational awareness underpins all space operations and is essential to the safety of on-orbit capabilities for the Department of Defense, civil, commercial and the international space community."

The 21st SW commander is charged with leading 39 units on six installations in 29 locations in six different countries through 14 time zones. These worldwide units operate 13 weapons systems. In addition, wing units on Peterson AFB support 54 mission partners, including NORAD/Northern Command and U.S. Air Force Space Command Headquarters.

"The 21st Space Wing is Air Force Space Command's largest and most diverse wing. It's clear to me, each and every Airman assigned to the 21st understands the critical nature of our mission for U.S. Strategic Command, our space mission partners and our allies," added General Shelton. "Colonel Whiting created a team that embraced excellence across the board, and I'm confident Colonel Crawford will do the same."