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Guard unit calling Vandenberg home

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A guard unit new to Vandenberg, not only brings valuable assets to space, but also offers opportunities to space professionals.

On April 6, the 216th Operations Support Squadron became part of the Joint Space Operation Center at Vandenberg.

Since 2001, the California Air National Guard has proactively pursued new and emerging Air Force missions, transforming more than 70 percent of its force to incorporate new weapons and operations systems, and, in effect, have broadened their space, intelligence and unmanned aerial assignments.

"These new capabilities are products of change, both in the Air Force and the California Air National Guard," said Maj. Gen. Dennis Lucas, commander for the California Air National Guard. "Our strategic plan for transforming into the most relevant Air Force missions is now reality. These exciting changes have reshaped the California Air National Guard and secured our future."

The primary mission of the new unit is to organize, train and equip the military's top space, intelligence and communications professionals.

These individuals provide operational support functions such as operations training, certification, development of weapons tactics, techniques and procedures, as well as operations exercise and surge support for all military members operating within the Joint Space Operations Center.

The merger of the unit into the JSPOC is an unprecedented event in that the Air National Guard have never been associated with an organization where active duty Air Force, Air Force Reserve, other joint service components, and multinational military members are all operating together in one space mission.

"The unit will not only offer many assets to the space community, but it will also allow space professionals who are leaving active duty a chance to continue in the space career, while in the guard," said Staff Sgt. Trevor Bivins.

Just as the community on Vandenberg will grow, local communities can expect to experience growth, as well. The new unit should bring additional military space professionals to reside in Santa Barbara County and further increase space enterprises at Vandenberg AFB.