by Monica Mendoza
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Col. Chris Crawford took command of the 21st Space Wing June 28 in a ceremony on Peterson Air Force Base.
In what Air Force leadership called an auspicious occasion for the 21st Space Wing, Col. Stephen N. Whiting relinquished command to Colonel Crawford before the wing’s Airmen and distinguished visitors.
“This is an incredible privilege, and I look forward to working with all of you in what will hopefully be a fantastic two year period,” said Colonel Crawford, who has been assigned to Peterson Air Force Base four other times.
Colonel Crawford comes to Peterson Air Force Base from the Pentagon, where he served as the chief current operations division, deputy directorate for Command, Control and Nuclear Operations. In that role he had a front row seat to some of the most challenging war fighter scenarios of the national military command center.
Colonel Crawford takes command of the Air Force’s largest wing geographically and organizationally. The 21st Space Wing consists of a workforce of about 5,000 officer, enlisted, civilian and contract employees. The wing spans the globe providing missile warning and space control for combat forces and the national command authorities of the United States and Canada.
Lt. Gen. Susan J. Helms, 14th Air Force commander who presided over the change of command ceremony, highlighted the achievements of the 21st SW and Colonel Whiting’s leadership. She said Colonel Crawford has the tenacity to lead and inspire changes within the Air Force community.
“There is no better person to take the reins as the wing commander of the 21st Space Wing than Colonel Chris Crawford,” General Helms said. “Not only does Colonel Crawford have a great team behind him, but he has the knowledge and experience to take Peterson to the next level.”
Among his many achievements, Colonel Crawford stood up the 16th Space Control Squadron – which is essential in providing battle space interference characterization to theater commander and ensures critical information is protected. As a former operations support squadron commander at Schriever AFB and 21st Operations Group commander, Colonel Crawford has keen understanding of the various missions, General Helms said.
Colonel Whiting, who led the 21st SW for two years, inspected the troops one last time. He thanked the troops and total force and said leading the 21st SW has been the best assignment of his career. Under his leadership, the 21st SW recently was awarded the coveted Gen. Thomas S. Moorman, Jr. award for being Air Force Space Command’s overall outstanding wing, and the Gen. Robert T. Herres award for AFSPC’s most outstanding wing with a space mission.
“Peterson is one of the Air Force’s flagship installations and you’ve done a fantastic job of making it so,” Colonel Whiting told the troops and civilians who gathered at the parade field to wish him and his family well. Colonel Whiting’s next assignment is in the Pentagon as the Military Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense.
“My time here has come to a close,” Colonel Whiting said. “Fortunately, the right officer has arrived at the right time to lead the wing in the right way. Colonel Chris Crawford is a personal friend and I know you will quickly find him to be a terrifically bright officer with unending energy and a remarkable spirit of innovation.”
Colonel Crawford took the 21st Space Wing guidon from General Helms as a symbol of his assumption of command.
“Many times in my career, I’ve had the opportunity to follow outstanding officers, but, I’ve never had the opportunity to follow a close personal friend,” Colonel Crawford said of Colonel Whiting.
Gen. William L. Shelton, Air Force Space Command commander, described the 21st Space Wing as Air Force Space Command’s largest and most diverse wing.
“It’s clear to me, each and every Airman assigned to the 21st Space Wing understands the critical nature of our mission for U.S. Strategic Command, our space mission partners and our allies,” General Shelton said. “Colonel Whiting created a team that embraced excellence across the board and I’m confident Colonel Crawford will do the same.”
Colonel Crawford said Colorado Springs is like a second home to him and his family. He has been assigned on Peterson AFB four other times in his career, including serving as the 21st Operations Group commander from 2007-2009.
As the commander of the 21st SW, Colonel Crawford is responsible for leading 39 units on six installations in 29 locations in six different countries through 14 time zones. These worldwide units operate 13 weapons systems. In addition, wing units on Peterson AFB support 54 mission partners, including NORAD/Northern Command and U.S. Air Force Space Command.
He said he is looking forward to the challenge.
“Your dedication and talent is really unique,” he told those gathered for the ceremony. “And it is a good thing too, because our nation does depend so heavily on the 21st Space Wing and its many critical functions, and I know we as team can not only continue to deliver victory, but we can expand our capabilities and missions and those of our mission partners.”