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Peterson Space Observer

Space Visionary, Retired Gen. Moorman passes away

By Tech Sgt. Justin Cole | 319th Combat Training Squadron

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo — Retired Gen. Thomas S. Moorman Jr., the fifth commander of Air Force Space Command and 26th Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force, passed away June 17 in Bethesda, Maryland.

“He played a pivotal role in establishing Air Force Space Command and the Department of Defense’s space policy and programs,” said Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, Chief of Space Operations, U.S. Space Force. “His legacy lives on with U.S. Space Force and U.S. Space Command.”

In September 2012, Gen. William L. Shelton, then AFSPC commander, invited Moorman to Peterson Air Force Base to celebrate the command’s 30th anniversary. Concluding the week of celebrations, Shelton hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new facility on base, the Moorman Space Education and Training Center.

The facility would become home to four organizations providing tiered levels of Space Professional Development to joint and allied forces. Years later, staff and students still pass a 250-pound bronze plaque bearing Moorman’s likeness on their way to class.

The plaque in the SETC entrance reads, “In honor of his steadfast vision and tireless efforts to build and mature USAF space forces. Throughout his long and distinguished career, both in and out of uniform, his expertise, leadership and passion have inspired numerous professionals to strive for excellence in providing unsurpassed space capability for the United States of America.”

The SETC was named after Moorman because of his many contributions across the span of his 35-year military career to space professionals, combatant commanders, the Joint Force and the nation. Moorman’s efforts laid the foundation for the USSF, the sixth branch of the U.S. military, and U.S. Space Command, the 11th unified combatant command.

Just as Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell, an early airpower pioneer, touted the strategic importance of airpower in domains other than air, Moorman—steeped in space capabilities as a young field-grade officer—brought space power to bear during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield as the commander of AFSPC.  In doing so, he demonstrated the strategic nature of integrated space capabilities, displaying their decisive effects on the global stage.

Following the conclusion of Desert Storm, Moorman said, “Desert Storm was a watershed event for space systems, satellites and ground systems and people trained to control them. [They] played a crucial role in the outcome of the conflict. Space owned the battlefield. We had a robust on-orbit constellation and the inherent spacecraft flexibility to alter our operations to support specific needs of the terrestrial warfighter.”

Moorman is viewed as a visionary because he was one of the first to view space as a warfighting domain. In a 1990 speech at Patrick Air Force Base, Moorman asserted that, “The future of the Air Force is inextricably linked to space, and that space power will be as decisive in future conflicts as airpower is today.” He made the statement nearly three decades before the USSF was established.

After his retirement, Moorman served on the 2001 Rumsfeld Space Commission that advocated for the development of separate space doctrine, operations concepts, and cadre. His vision has continued to reverberate across the space profession. He will be truly missed.

At the SETC ribbon-cutting ceremony in 2012, Moorman said, “The need for space professional development dates back to the original plans for the command. We recognized the need to institutionalize and formalize space operations, so the training function was a high priority that included consideration of facilities, a syllabus, space education for all Airmen and within each of the national war colleges.”

During 2019, the space professional development pipeline has seen a number of overhauls. Previously, new space personnel would gain a broad understanding of the domain in Undergraduate Space Training at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, before progressing to their gaining units. UST has been redesigned to teach threat-based academics and critical thinking skills.

On May 26, 2020, the 319th Combat Training Squadron began teaching the Space Warfighter Follow-on courses to recent UST graduates. The goal of the new SWF courses is to specialize these new professionals into disciplined Orbital Warfare, Space Electronic Warfare and Space Battle Management experts.

Lt. Col. Daniel Sebeck, 319th CTS commander, said with the SWF training’s implementation, the U.S. Space Force is transforming the way the U.S. military develops its space warfighters and is laying the foundation for a highly trained, ready force.

“The Space Force must develop a cadre of space warfighters to protect U.S. interests in space, deter aggression in, from and to space and conduct space operations,” Sebeck said. “The SWF courses are the first step toward mastering and applying space warfare discipline.”

Space Visionary, Retired Gen. Moorman passes away
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