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Schriever adding 150 troops as Colorado Springs base expands satellite role

Space scenarios are planned out in support of an exercise at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., on Sept. 20, 2013.

U.S. AIR FORCE

By TOM ROEDER | The Gazette (Tribune News Service) | Published: April 21, 2018

Schriever Air Force Base will add nearly 150 workers as Air Force Space Command assumes wider control over the military's satellites.

The new faces at Schriever are part of the new Joint Forces Space Command Component, which pulls in Navy and Army space troops under Space Command boss Gen. Jay Raymond. The move was announced Friday by Colorado U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, who was told of the change by Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson.

"This is great news for Colorado and I am excited to welcome additional Joint Force Space Component personnel to our state," Gardner said in a statement.

The joint headquarters for space was mandated in a 2017 policy bill, which sought more centralized control over the nation's military satellites. It was a compromise that backed away from an earlier plan to create a separate military branch for space.

The joint headquarters was initially established in California, but is coming to Colorado after an analysis of alternatives came out with Schriever on top.

The joint headquarters will be located alongside the National Space Defense Center at Schriever, where intelligence agency and military space experts are working to defend American military satellites from attack.

The rising fear of future wars reaching space was a key theme of the Space Symposium at The Broadmoor this week. Leaders, including Air Force chief of staff Gen. David Goldfein, said the military must be prepared to fight and win battles in orbit.

Putting the rest of the military's satellites under Raymond is part of the continuing growth of Air Force Space Command's dominant role in the arena. The command already controls 90 percent of the military's satellites and oversees a space budget that's expected to top $64 billion over the next five years.

Putting the joint headquarters at Schriever will also give the program one of the highest levels of security available in the military. The headquarters will move behind a prison-like double fence where workers pass through tight security screenings on their way in and out.

Key Defense Department programs, including operation of the Global Positioning System, reside behind the security layers at Schriever.

Gardner signaled the move as a vote of confidence in Air Force control of space operations after a White House trial balloon last month showed President Donald Trump's willingness to create a separate space force.

"This is an important part of our national defense and I will continue to work with the Air Force to support the critical work our men and women are doing at Schriever Air Force Base," Gardner said.

The first of the new troops are expected to arrive at Schriever next month, and the Air Force expects to have all 148 workers at the base next year.

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