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News | Oct. 11, 2023

Honoring a Leader Focused on Space

U.S. Space Command

Servicemembers in all uniforms, civilians and contractors lined the halls of Building 1 and vibrant clapping and cheers echoed down three stairwells as U.S. Space Force Lt. Gen. John Shaw walked out of U.S. Space Command for the last time as the deputy commander Oct 5, 2023.

Since November 2020, the general has served in the command and the team bid a final farewell to Shaw with a ‘clap out’ honoring him as the second individual to hold the title.

“It's been my privilege and honor to work with the women and men of U.S. Space Command as we have stood up the command from its very beginnings to what it is today, a full-fledged combatant command that is vital to the security of our nation and our planet,” Shaw said fondly in a final interview before his departure.

Upon his assumption of role as deputy commander, U.S. Space Command was just over a year old and still heavily focused on bringing in human capital and refining its key functions. But the reason for its establishment – namely, the growing threats facing the space domain – meant there was no time to waste.

“Potential adversaries have observed over the years how much we use space in our society and our joint warfighting activities, and they’re threatening it,” Shaw said. “The importance of space and space capabilities to our joint warfighters, our allies, and to our society is not diminishing anytime soon.”

Today, U.S. Space Command is performing well beyond just the key functions. Similar to that of its ten fellow combatant commands, U.S. Space Command has service components representing each branch of the military, as well as a cyber component. To enhance its critical Space Domain Awareness mission, the command maintains space situational awareness data-sharing agreements with 35 countries and international governmental organizations and 137 commercial partners. And earlier this year, U.S. Space Command successfully completed its first tier-one exercise.

Though U.S. Space Command will undoubtedly continue to accomplish its mission as it experiences the same leadership evolution that all military organizations face, you needn’t search hard to find evidence of the lasting impact of Shaw’s tenure at Space Command, and his 33-year career in the U.S. Air Force and, eventually, U.S. Space Force.

“Lt. Gen. Shaw has been an unwavering advocate for USSPACECOM and the space domain,” said U.S. Army Gen. James Dickinson, commander of U.S. Space Command, emphasizing his direct contribution to the command’s ability to synchronize effects with the geographic and functional commands to achieve integrated operations in campaigning and contingency, a first for the command and the Department of Defense.

These contributions to DoD’s understanding and normalization of the space domain as an operational environment have proven invaluable to the ongoing development and refinement of the military’s space doctrine. But Shaw’s mastery of space concepts is not restricted to high-level discussions of strategy and tactics. It also fuels his passion for sharing these complex ideas with the broader scientific community, made possible by the eloquence and accessibility of both his written and spoken word.
Most recently, Shaw published an editorial in Space News describing the Third Space Age currently unfolding in society’s midst. As U.S. Space Command forges ahead in this modern space era, the legacy of those who transformed the organization will remain foundational in its mission.

“I’m extremely optimistic. The command is in a great position right now, but I also encourage those that are going to be a part of Space Command in the future to realize that this command is only becoming more and more important to the nation and to the world as the importance of space grows over time,” Shaw said. “And Space Command will be the command that protects and defends in the domain as our activities continue to go farther and farther outward.”