Strategic, Space Commands Merge
By Petty Officer 1st Class Sonja Chambers
Special to American Forces Press Service
OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb., Oct. 2, 2002 Two U.S. unified commands merged Tuesday to form a new global command with global responsibilities in a new strategic environment.
During an afternoon ceremony in the Bennie L. Davis Maintenance Facility, a new U.S. Strategic Command was established through the merger with U.S. Space Command and tasked with space operations, information operations, computer network operations, and strategic defense and attack missions.
During the ceremony, Adm. James O. Ellis Jr., U.S. Strategic Command chief, cased the colors and stood down the old command. Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, then activated the new command, incorporating portions of U.S. Space Command. That command, based at Peterson AFB, Colo., ceased to exist.
The new StratCom represents the transformation that provides a single commander, with a global perspective, to support the President and the Secretary of Defense, said Myers. With a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, one of the most potent reminders of the nation's deterrence strength, parked behind several troop formations to the rear of the facility, and a 60-foot U.S. flag behind him, Ellis took command of the new StratCom.
"This new command is going to have all the responsibilities of its predecessors, but an entirely new mission focus, greatly expanded forces and you might even say several infinite areas of responsibility," Myers said. The command will focus on the military's ability to respond to threats around the world and offer a wider range of strategic options.
"United States Strategic Command provides a single warfighting combatant command with a global perspective, focused on exploiting the strong and growing synergy between the domain of space and strategic capabilities," Ellis said.
The merger of the commands is part of the Bush administration's plan to transform the U.S. military as part of the nation's national military strategy. The new StratCom will continue to be responsible for providing strategic deterrence for the nation, but now, it will also assume space missions and responsibilities.
"Here today you begin to affect a real transformation," said Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. "A transformation that will improve our command and control, our intelligence and our planning. In short, a fundamental step forward to better meet the security environment that will define the 21st century."
The command exercises combatant command and control of assigned task forces and service components that support the command's mission. During day-to-day operations, service component commanders retain primary responsibility for maintaining the readiness of USSTRATCOM forces and performing their assigned functions.
Organizations include the following task force and service elements: aerial refueling, airborne communications, Army Space forces, ballistic missile submarines, bomber and reconnaissance aircraft, Joint Task Force Computer Network Operations, the Joint Information Operations Center, land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, the Naval Network and Space Operations Command, and Space Air Force.