Peterson Space Wing's new boss, an AFA grad, 'excited' to be back in Springs

August 11, 2013 Updated: August 11, 2013 at 2:25 pm
photo - Col. John Shaw
Col. John Shaw 

Dozens of generals got a new landlord last month as Col. John Shaw took command of Peterson Air Force Base's 21st Space Wing.

The wing has a huge mission, providing missile warning to commanders around the globe and monitoring tens of thousands of objects on orbit, including satellites and space junk. The wing, though, also runs Peterson, which is home to 48 general officers and "general officer equivalents" - senior civilian workers.

That means that along with the military missions, the wing commander must worry about keeping lawns well-manicured for top brass. Peterson is home to the North American Aerospace Defense Command, U.S. Northern Command, Air Force Space Command and the Army Space and Missile Defense Command - star-studded leadership offices atop the Pentagon's universe.

Outgoing wing commander Col. Chris Crawford said he was frequently asked about being landlord to the stars. He said it was a great experience.

But catering to the bosses may be the least important thing for the 21st Space Wing, which has detachments around the globe.

The wing uses radar and space-based systems to monitor space and rocket launches.

The wing recently got top marks for its mission in an Air Force inspection.

"It's a team at the top of its game," said Shaw, who came to Peterson from a job at the Pentagon.

Shaw is no stranger to Colorado Springs. Counting time at the Air Force Academy, where he graduated in 1990, the wing commander is in his fifth assignment to the Pikes Peak region.

He takes over the wing in a time of fiscal austerity. The wing is part of Air Force Space Command, which is cutting as much as $1 billion from its books annually as part of cuts that could carve $1 trillion in Pentagon spending over a decade.

The cuts, though, didn't dim Shaw's outlook on the new job.

"I'm really excited," he said. "I really am."

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