By 2nd Lt. Jason Gabrick
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
Former 4th Space Operations Squadron commander, Col. Tommy Roberts, returned to take command of the 50th Operations Group during a ceremony here Tuesday.
Roberts succeeded Col. John Shaw, who is headed to the Pentagon to work space policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
As the commander of the 50 OG, Roberts is responsible for more than 1,300 military and Department of Defense civilian personnel throughout five squadrons with units around the world. The group is responsible for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, GPS, the Air Force’s communication and weather satellites.
Col. James Ross, 50th Space Wing commander, presided during the ceremony and touted the difficult role of the 50 OG as well as the weight its command carries.
“The satellite systems operated, controlled and flown by the 50th Operations Group are foundational to our modern way of American war,” said Ross. “We do not go to war without these systems. As you can see, this is a very big job.”
Roberts returns to Schriever AFB after serving as the space control division chief in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics at the Pentagon.
He entered the Air Force as a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1992. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Political Science as well as Master of Science in Management from Lesley College, Master of Arts in Organizational Management from George Washington University and Master of Science in National Resource Strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.
Roberts’ career includes instructor time in both the Peacekeeper Intercontinental Ballistic Missile weapon system and the Milstar communications satellite system. He has also served on the staffs of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Air Force Space Command and the 50 SW.
This is the second time Roberts has directly succeeded Shaw in command. During his outgoing remarks, Shaw quoted famous New York Yankee, Yogi Berra, when he said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”
Shaw said as he leaves Schriever Air Force Base, he is grateful for three things: his health, a loving family and to have done something meaningful. Shaw likened the men and women of the 50 OG to an all-star team.
“They really are all stars and experts who manage the mission day in and day out,” said Shaw. “The best part of the mission and what we do here at the little air force base that no one’s ever seen is the people. This mission is great because it is a great human endeavor.”
Shaw said farewell to the group with a line from the Air Force hymn, “Aloft in solitudes of space, uphold them with Thy saving grace.”
With the symbolic passing of the unit flag, Roberts took command of the 50 OG.
“There are elements of happiness leaving the Pentagon,” Roberts said. “Most of the happiness comes from being here with the 50th Operations Group in beautiful Colorado. The world relies on what you do here. This is one case where failure is not an option. You are the best at what you do and I’m happy to be standing here before you today as your commander.”