LOMPOC, Calif. - We got a rare opportunity to speak with the Commander of the 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg Air Force Base Thursday.
Colonel Anthony Mastalir took over the post in July. He’s in charge of operations for the Western Range and assuring continued access to space.
It’s not common that our crews have the chance to sit down with leadership on base and ask questions so this was an exciting opportunity.
Col. Mastalir spoke about Vandenberg’s future and it’s chances of being chosen as the permanent location for U.S. Space Command. Vandenberg is on the list, vying for a chance along with several locations in Colorado and Huntsville, Alabama, to be the official hub of the 11 Combatant Command.
Colonel Anthony Mastalir says the most exciting aspect of taking helm of the 30th Space Wing is celebrating his airmen’s successes. “It’s kind of like being a parent. You’re proud of your kids when they do well,” he adds.
While Mastalir says it’s an exciting time on the Central Coast, it’s also a critical time for Vandenberg Air Force Base.
“Space has become a warfighting domain whether we like it or not. Our adversaries are driving in that direction and we, the United States Air Force, the United States Government, we have a responsibility to protect the space assets upon which we and the American people rely on every single day,” said Mastalir.
The new 30th Space Wing Commander says we must be prepared to defend our space assets and there’s a number of steps in the works to achieve that, one being the standup of the 11 Combatant Command.
“My understanding is that it rests at the Secretary of the Air Force’s level so hopefully, when that decision is ready to be released we’ll have a better understanding of what that looks like for this area,” said Mastalir.
As we await the final word on a permanent home base for Space Command, Colonel Mastalir expects something in this year’s NDAA, National Defense Authorization Act, that addresses Space Force.
“Congress is working diligently on what that might look like. We are so anxious to see the NDAA, the National Defense Authorization Act and understand exactly how U.S. Space Force will be stood up,” said Mastalir.
Regardless of how this all shakes out, Vandenberg’s leadership says as U.S. Space Command comes into its own over the next couple years there will be more headquarters and opportunities.
“In terms of mission growth, which may mean more people more jobs more economic development, Vandenberg has a lot to offer and the Air Force is keenly aware of that,” said Mastalir.
Another promising sign, Mastalir says officials hope to move the Combined Space Operations Center into an upgraded operational center next year.
The Wing Commander says there’s also an increased demand for commercial space launch that’s not going to be completely satisfied by the Eastern Range and the Western Range is going to be a part of that solution.
“We are absolutely postured right now to do whatever we can do to facilitate commercial growth it’s in our international interest to do so,” said Mastalir.
With a lot of venture capitalist investment, land and launch facilities on our side, Colonel Mastalir says the Air Force is interested in working with the Central Coast to incentivize companies to utilize Vandenberg’s unique benefits. The Colonel also believes Space X will keep a presence here.