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New AFSPC leader visits Vandenberg

Capt. Alida Forbes, 4th Space Launch Squadron, shakes hands with Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, commander, Air Force Space Command, during a company grade officer luncheon at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., July 20. (Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Samuel Bendet)

Capt. Alida Forbes, 4th Space Launch Squadron, shakes hands with Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, commander, Air Force Space Command, during a company grade officer luncheon at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., July 20. (Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Samuel Bendet)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The new commander of Air Force Space Command visited Vandenberg July 20, where he addressed recapitalization and its tie to the issue of force shaping. 

"Recapitalization is just a word that means something is too old and needs to be replaced," said Gen. Kevin Chilton when talking about Air Force weapons systems. Many aircraft in the Air Force inventory were bought in the early 1960s and will still be flying for another 40 or more years, he said. 

The same challenges exist with aging systems in space command. 

"In terms of a car, how would you feel about driving an 80-year-old car; finding parts and providing maintenance on it? It's time to update and renew our systems," he said. 

"The need for new equipment has led to downsizing the force," the general added. "So, force shaping will affect people of all ranks." 

Although downsizing is a hot topic in today's Air Force, lunch with Vandenberg's company grade officers provided the general a chance to speak on a number of other issues related to space command and its people. 

"It was a great opportunity for us as officers to be able to sit down with the boss and have him answer a lot of the questions we had," said Capt. Chris Martinez, 30th Security Forces Squadron. "He's a very smart man, and I think his experience moving from NASA and now back to space command is definitely a plus." 

General Chilton shared his vision for the future of space command. 

"My number one goal is having Air Force Space Command recognized as being world experts in space operations and their systems," General Chilton said, "and not only be the pros at space, but also integrated into the fight."

As a former NASA astronaut, General Chilton also touched on the command's aid to the shuttle mission. 

"Our space shuttle support will not change in the future," the general said. AFSPC has the technology to give shuttle operators the information they need to maneuver safely in space, and we will continue to provide that support. 

General Chilton's day at Vandenberg included briefings conducted by wing leadership, as well as a helicopter tour of the bases' missile processing facilities. 

The general assumed command of AFSPC in a ceremony at Peterson AFB, Colo., June 26 and plans to visit all the bases under his command in the next few months.