14th AF commander focuses on joint ops
In an interview this week, Maj. Gen. William L. Shelton reflected on the challenges and opportunities ahead for his command and on his decision to join the Air Force and become a space professional.

By Capt. Todd Fleming, 30th Space Wing Public Affairs
Posted Wednesday, July 13, 2005

14th AF commander focuses on joint ops
Maj. Gen. William L. Shelton addresses Team V during the 30th Space Wing change of command ceremony held June 30 on the parade field. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Shawn Wells)

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VANDENBERG AFB, Calif. – Nearly two months on the job, the man who commands 14th Air Force and the recently stood up Joint Space Operations Center here is focused on improving joint operations.

In an interview this week, Maj. Gen. William L. Shelton reflected on the challenges and opportunities ahead for his command and on his decision to join the Air Force and become a space professional.

Many of his thoughts focused on continuing to develop and improve the new joint command and control center for space, designed to deliver decision-quality information and added capability to warfighters in the field.

“We really sprinted to the starting line here,” General Shelton said. “The JSpOC stood up on the 18th of May and is up and operational and doing real well. We have a great initial capability but there’s a lot of work to be done to grow it into the capability it needs to be in support of the warfighter.”

The general indicated he is focused on improving the automation tools and joint manpower as part of the effort to develop the center.

“If the Army and Navy want to participate in space operations as we believe they do, this is a tangible commitment and it’s also a way to be involved at the operational level of war,” General Shelton said.

The general also acknowledged the added launch capability that will be delivered by the evolved expendable launch vehicle programs, Boeing’s Delta IV and Lockheed’s Atlas V rockets, both of which will eventually fly from Vandenberg and will replace the legacy systems used in the past.

The first Delta IV mission from here is scheduled for later this year.

“I think those of us who have been in the business awhile realize this still is rocket science,” General Shelton said. “This is a very technical business. So, EELV continues to come along but you don’t want to rush the development of the capability given what rides on top of these rockets. These are national treasures. It is a great capability and will provide increased flexibility for us.”

General Shelton said like many people in his generation, he became interested in space while watching the early spaceflight missions.

“I got up early in the morning to watch grainy black and white pictures of Mercury and Gemini launches and was just fascinated by spaceflight. When I went to the Academy, I majored in astronautical engineering so it was natural to go into the business.”

The commander indicated he is excited to be back at Vandenberg and looks forward to seeing the many historic launches on the schedule.

“Not only do I have an operational responsibility but I have a personal interest as well, so when you get to put those two things together, it’s wonderful,” he said.

Both General Shelton’s daughter and son followed in their father’s footsteps and are serving in the Air Force.

His daughter is a doctor at Travis AFB, Calif., and his son is in navigator training at Randolph AFB, Texas. Although General Shelton made a point of saying he did not pressure them into joining the Air Force and was surprised by their decisions, considering his enthusiasm for the service, it’s not hard to see why they made that decision.

“The Air Force gives you such tremendous responsibility at such an early age,” the general said. “I say to groups, ‘It’s like the Air Force tosses you keys to a very expensive car and all they say to you is don’t wreck it. And the rest is up to you.’ It’s just a great, satisfying, uplifting business to be in. You can certainly make more money elsewhere, but I don’t think you can replicate the personal job satisfaction anywhere. I just don’t believe that can be done.”

General Shelton concluded by praising his team.

“We’ve got the A-Team for space. From our satellite operators to our launch professionals to our headquarters staff, I’ve never been part of a better team more focused on the mission at hand. Space is essential to everything we do and this team is delivering critical capabilities to the warfighters 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.”

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