The primary unit at Vandenberg Space Force Base will gain a new leader after saying farewell to another during a change of command ceremony Friday.
Col. Robert Long will relieve Col. Anthony Mastalir as commander of Space Launch Delta 30 (formerly 30th Space Wing) during the ceremony starting at 10 a.m. at the base parade grounds.
Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting, commander of Space Operations Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, is scheduled to preside over the ceremony.
Base representatives noted that the change of command ceremony is a time-honored military tradition that marks the transfer of total responsibility and authority from one individual to another with a symbolic passing of a flag.
Long doesn’t have far to travel for his new assignment since he currently serves as the deputy commander of Space Delta 5 at Vandenberg.
Commanders of Vandenberg’s main unit typically fill the role for two, or maybe three, years before moving to a new military job or retiring.
Mastalir has led the base’s primary unit since July 2019 after arriving from Colorado, where he had served as deputy director of the Space Security and Defense Program in Colorado Springs, Colo.
During his time at Vandenberg, Mastalir oversaw the installation’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of late May, base officials said they were nearing a 75% vaccination goal.
His career has included assignments in both the space and missile career fields. Before his current job, Mastalir had been assigned to Vandenberg for undergraduate space and missile training in 1995 and later missile combat crew training in 1999.
For his next assignment, his 21st while serving in the military, Mastalir will deploy to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, where he will begin the process of standing up U.S. Space Forces Central Command.
The leader of Vandenberg’s main unit is responsible for $8.4 billion in assets, a $280 million annual budget, an installation spanning approximately 100,000 acres, and a base with 11,000 military, civilian and contractor personnel.
Vandenberg along with its primary unit recently got new names to reflect their roles as part of U.S. Space Force.