Col. Zachary Warakomski took command of the Peterson-Schriever Garrison, filling in as the landlord for three Pikes Peak region military bases, from Col. James Smith during ceremony Monday at Peterson Air Force Base.
The garrison command consists of the behind-the-scenes jobs that support troops in space operations, intelligence gathering and cyber missions. Warakomski's unit will support troops at Peterson, Schriever and Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs, Thule Air Base more than 700 miles north of the Arctic Circle in Greenland, New Boston Air Force Station in New Hampshire and Kaena Point Space Force Station in Hawaii.
Warakomski, a 1998 Air Force Academy graduate, is returning to Colorado Springs after prior assignments at both Peterson and Schriever Air Force bases. He most recently served as the 375th Communications Group commander at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois.
“Some of my favorite moments in service were serving at Peterson and Schriever,” Warakomski said. “So to be able to rejoin the space community … in Colorado Springs where I call home is a fantastic opportunity.”
Warakomski transferred from the Air Force to Space Force last Friday prior to taking command. Peterson, Schriever and Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station are expected to change names in the next few months to better reflect their space focused missions. Buckley Space Force Base in Aurora became the first Colorado military installation to change its name in honor of the new service branch earlier this month.
Colorado, home to U.S. Space Command, Space Operations Command, and the bulk of the Space Force's 13,000 troops, will have the largest contingent of bases named for the new space service.
“The Space Force’s new structure is unlike anything we’ve done before, streamlining our decision-making processes and empowering our commanders to effectively accomplish our complex space operations and instillation missions, Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting, commander of Space Operations Command at Peterson told the audience at Monday's ceremony.
Warakomski said he wants to help the Space Force – established December 2019 – create its own identity and culture.
“I’m truly excited to be here and I look forward to partnering and collaborating with you on initiatives both across the garrison as well as in the city and across the Front Range,” Warakomski said while addressing airmen and guardians in front on an oversized American flag in an airplane hangar.
Whiting praised the outgoing garrison commander.
“Our U.S. Space Force is better for having you as one of our senior leaders and I know you will continue to do great things as the deputy United States military representative at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.”
Smith commanded the 50th Space Wing at Schriever Air Force Base from June 2019 to July 2020 before becoming the inaugural commander of the Peterson-Schriever Garrison. In addition to supporting space troops, the garrison also hosts partners including Army Space and Missile Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command.
During his command, Smith supported 18,400 personnel on six different bases and 18 geographically separated units, with missions including 780 days of sustained orbital flight for the X-37 experimental space plan. He did all that while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and maneuvering through a changing environment as the Pentagon stood up a new military branch.
Looking back on taking command of the 50th Space Wing two years ago, Smith said, “Never in one million years would I have imagined that I’d be standing here on a stage at Peterson Air Force Base as a commander of an organization known as a garrison, relinquishing command to the commander of an organization known as SpOC (Space Operations Command), wearing insignia on my uniform indicating I was no longer in the Air Force. It truly has been a historic two years."