Wait, is that SchrYver? No, not AHH-nuld’s ex-wife. SchrEEver? Yep, SchrEEver. Located near Colorado Springs, CO, Schriever Air Force Base is home to the 50th Space Wing.
The base opened in 1985 as the Consolidated Space Operations Center. This being a mouthful, it was renamed Falcon Air Force Station once it became operational. The 2nd Space Wing, based at Peterson AFB, relocated that year, and Falcon became the operational home of the Air Force Satellite Control Network.
Air Force was dropped from the name when the unit took over DoD satellites and became known as the Satellite Control Network. Airmen assigned to the 2nd Space Wing handled command and control of DoD satellite networks through a series of Remote Tracking Stations (RTS) around the world.
The base was renamed (again) in 1998 to Falcon Air Force Base. In 1992, the 2nd Space Wing was inactivated, and the 50th Space Wing stood up. Six years later, in a break from tradition, the base was renamed (again) to Schriever Air Force Base. This change was to honor a pioneer in the U.S.’s ballistic missile program, General Bernard Schriever. It was the first time a U.S. base was named for a living person.
General Bernard Adolph Schriever
General Schriever headed the Pentagon’s Western Development Division, overseeing the Atlas, Titan, and Minuteman missile programs. He is considered the father of America’s ballistic missile and space programs. Schriever headed the programs that put America’s defense and navigation satellites into orbit.
General Schriever began his Air Force career when he was commissioned in the Army Air Corps in 1933. He became a bomber pilot in the 7th Bomb Group, based at Hamilton Field, CA, and deployed to the Pacific theater of operations in 1942.
Schriever moved up in rank, reaching full colonel in December of 1943. After the war, he worked at HQ Army Air Forces as a scientific liaison in materiel and attended National War College. This led to his promotion to assistant for evaluation in development. In 1953, Schriever was promoted to brigadier general and soon became involved in the Air Research and Development Center (ADRC), the Air Force’s weapons development division. ADRC was redesignated in 1961 as Air Force Systems Command (AFSC), the precursor to Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC).
AFSC was responsible for the research and development of new weapons systems. It was inactivated in 1992 when it was absorbed by AFMC. The YF-22 was the last major weapons system delivered from AFSC, in 1990. Through his leadership in ARDC and AFSC, General Schriever had a direct influence on modern weapons technology.
Space… The Final Frontier
On 26 July 2021, another renaming ceremony took place at Peterson Air Force base, CO. On that Monday, Schriever, Peterson, and Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Bases were redesignated as Space Force Bases. And Schriever base was chosen as the force’s first headquarters.
Subsequent to the stand-up of the United States Space Force, Air Force bases and Airmen, now known as Guardians, have been transitioned to this newest branch of the Armed Forces.
Established on 20 December 2019, the U.S. Space Force (USSF) is the world’s only independent military space force. USSF is the evolution of the Air Force and U.S. Space Commands. Incidentally, it is the first new military branch since the creation of the Air Force in 1947. So, it seems fitting that the Space Force falls under the umbrella of the Department of the Air Force, and that Schriever is its first headquarters.
Joint Force Guardians
While the USSF falls under the Department of the Air Force, the command is made up of Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines. When Space Force was activated, Airmen from Air Force Space Command were organizationally transferred to USSF, providing a ready force. Sister branches decided to get in on the action, and 50 slots were made available.
Over 3,000 applications were received from around the DoD. Forty slots were given to the Army, seven to the Navy, and three to the Corps. Can’t have too many Jarheads messing with the satellite settings!
Enlisted acquisition into the USSF takes place via Air Force basic training in San Antonio, TX. Officer acquisitions currently come from the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, with just over 200 cadets commissioning to Space Force in 2020 and 2021. Space Cadets… the jokes are out there, people.
There are currently about 16,000 military and civilian members assigned to the Space Force. The plan is for space missions across the U.S. Armed Forces to consolidate under USSF, providing “one-stop-shopping” to combatant commanders and allies alike. In order to facilitate this consolidation, the Space Force accepts applications from other branches in an effort to have a well-rounded joint force.
Whether the next war takes place in space, or through space-based systems, the U.S. Space Force Guardians will be ready. Baby Groot has not yet committed to the Academy, though.