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The Gazette file Gen. James Dickinson, left, and outgoing Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond shake hands in August during a change of command ceremony for the U.S. Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base.

Over the past two years, the military's space enterprise has been completely reorganized, establishing a new service branch, new commands and new units down the line.

Here's a quick primer:

Space Force

This new armed service branch was created a year ago to organize, train and equip the military's satellite troops. In the coming years it will grow to 16,000 troops, making it the smallest of the armed services.

It is still related to the Air Force and reports to the Department of the Air Force in a relationship similar to that shared between the Marine Corps and the Navy.

The Space Force will continue to get many of its officers from the Air Force Academy.

U.S. Space Command

Reestablished in 2018, this command oversees the military's missions in space, filling that role for all service branches. It includes 1,400 troops from across the armed services and comes with thousands of civilian employees and contractors.

It is similar to the command of the same name that operated in Colorado Springs from 1985 to 2002 but was shuttered amid post-Cold War downsizing.

The command is provisionally housed in Colorado Springs, but as a new unit must be subjected to a Pentagon process to decide where it will permanently reside.

Because the command will come with billions of contracting dollars, cities in 26 states battled for the command. The list was cut to six last month, with Colorado Springs named a finalist.

Space Operations Command

Part of the new Space Force, this command that goes by the acronym SPOC (pronounced Spock) is housed at Peterson Air Force Base. It contains the frontline troops for the service and makes up the bulk of the forces inside U.S. Space Command.

Space Training and Readiness Command

This command comes with another cool acronym. STARCOM will oversee the education for space troops and perform other functions to keep the Space Force ready for war. It is temporarily housed at Peterson Air Force Base, but a permanent home for it hasn't been named.


Like Army Brigade and Air Force wings, this is the basic combat command of the Space Force. Broken into functional areas, several deltas inhabit Colorado bases, with units at Buckley, Schriever and Peterson Air Force bases.

Space Delta 2

This Peterson Air Force Base unit tracks what's in orbit around the planet, a job known as "space domain awareness." The unit tracks the hazards of space junk and monitors satellites from rival countries to determine what they are doing in orbit and whether they threaten U.S. and allied space operations.

Space Delta 3

This Peterson unit conducts "electronic warfare" missions in space. That work includes monitoring possible jamming of American satellite signals and studying the transmissions of satellites from rival nations. In a war, the delta could be tasked with jamming enemy satellites.

Space Delta 4

Headquartered at Buckley Air Force Base, this unit uses images from space-based infrared scanners to detect missile threats. The missile warning mission is a key part of missile defense for U.S. Space Command, The North American Aerospace Defense command and U.S. Northern Command.

Space Delta 6

Housed at Peterson Air Force Base, this unit runs the military's satellite control network. That's a series of ground stations that communicate with spacecraft in orbit.

Space Delta 7

This Peterson Air Force Base unit handles the Space Force's intelligence reconnaissance and surveillance role. Basically, these guys are the space spies. But the work is more rocket science than James Bond, with its troops running a clearinghouse of space information for U.S. Space Command.

Space Delta 8

This Schriever Air Force Base outfit runs the Global Positioning System. That constellation of satellites provides navigation and timing signals for the military and for civilian users around the globe. From in-car navigation systems to the timing signals that control the flow of money on the stock exchange and the flow of data on the Internet, GPS signals are a part of daily life for almost every American.

Space Delta 9

These Schriever troops are the Space Force's Green Berets. Their main mission is to deter wars in space. But when combat reaches orbit, the 9th Delta can "defeat orbital threats." 

"Additionally, Delta 9 supports Space Domain Awareness by conducting space-based battlespace characterization operations and also conducts on-orbit experimentation and technology demonstrations for the U.S. Space Force," the service said.

Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240

Twitter: @xroederx

City Editor

Tom Roeder is the Gazette's City Editor. In Colorado Springs since 2003, Tom has covered the military at home and overseas and has cover statehouses in Denver and Olympia, Wash. His main job, though, is being dad to two great kids.

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