PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – The future of missile warning for the United States is the Space-based Infrared System, said Gen. Lance Lord, commander of Air Force Space Command, recently in a visit to the 21st Space Wing here.

“Missile warning is critical,” said Lord. “Over the years, it has been crucial for our nuclear deterrence posture. The Defense Support Program has operated well in that environment, and now it’s time to modernize – SBIRS is the key to doing that.”

SBIRS High will be the principle system for missile warning, supplementing the constellation of DSP satellites.

“It will help us improve our warning capability and will get some missile defense capabilities as well. There’s no doubt in my mind that the warriors of the 21st Space Wing will continue to be involved in SBIRS processing, as they have been so far. I think that our best days in that business are ahead of us,” the general said to members of the wing at a commander’s call.

The 21st SW, which has units spread out throughout the world, from Greenland to Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, will be instrumental in the command’s future, he said.

“The 21st Space Wing, with its worldwide mission of missile warning and surveillance, is a key part of what Air Force Space Command is doing now and how we expect the mission will evolve in the future,” he said.

He also spoke of the unique challenges in integrating space into the Air and Space Expeditionary Forces.

“We kind of get double duty in that respect,” he said. “Because we already have people deployed all over the world, 24/7, 365 days a year, doing critical space missions. In addition, some of our people have the opportunity to be deployed to support Operation Enduring Freedom. We’re involved all over the world, so we not only have to think expeditionary, we have to act expeditionary and we’re doing both.”

That space mission would not be possible, he concluded, without the total force concept.

“We have Air Force Reserve and guard folks working alongside active-duty members supporting the operations critical to accomplishing our missions and it’s a good total force team.”