Clear Air Force Station, a remote military installation just off the Parks Highway at Mile 283.5, changed its name Tuesday, officially becoming Clear Space Force Station, part of the new U.S. Space Force.
A special afternoon ceremony Tuesday commemorated the change and celebrated Clear’s dedication to the future as it continues its mission of keeping America safe by monitoring the skies and space for any imminent threats.
Clear Space Force Station provides America’s first line of defense. The Upgraded Early Warning Radar is strategically located here to provide the country with the ability to detect and track ballistic missiles and interceptors at a range of up to 3,000 miles as well as monitoring objects in space.
This system allows experts to offer early tactical warning and attack assessment to the National Command Authority. Operators can detect sea-launched or intercontinental ballistic missiles and track them. The system at Clear is part of a program that provides complete coverage, allowing for early warning detection of any incoming ballistic missiles.
“We provide early warning assessment of any attack against North America,” said Major Joseph Kilian, deputy commander and director of operations.
He described it as a mission of deterrence and commended the men and women who are on watch 24 hours a day, every day, to keep America safe. They are always vigilant, he said, adding that America’s enemies know this.
The United States Space Force is the space service branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. It is one of the eight uniformed services, and it is the world’s first and currently only independent space force. It was launched in December 2019 by President Donald Trump.
Members of the Space Force are called Guardians and there are an estimated 10 Guardians stationed at Clear, Kilian said. Space Force members have newly-designed patches on their uniforms, made from PVC — not embroidered — and blue lettering, distinct from other branches of the military.
Meanwhile, Air Force personnel remain airmen, members of the Navy are sailors, soldiers are in the Army and of course Marines remain Marines.
“We are known as guardians,” Kilian said.
The public name change to Clear Space Force Station is a huge step forward, according to intelligence analyst Tech Sgt. Conrad Crookston.
“This established a new culture, a new way of war fighting,” Crookston said. “We are constantly trying to innovate.
“Changing a name in the military established that culture and a new way of doing things,” he said. “It’s that innovation, to make sure we keep pushing forward.”
The mission is moving forward in new and exciting ways, he said.
“We are making sure we meet the challenges of today and the future threats of tomorrow,” he said. “We don’t get to see this every day.”
His job, he said, is to keep his crews well informed to help secure the safety and security of the nation. His superiors enable him to pursue innovations and come up with new ways of doing things, he said.
“It’s an amazing opportunity and an amazing time to be here,” he added. “We’re taking old technologies and making them new. That’s the innovation piece. We are never sitting still, always moving innovation forward.”
Clear has a long history, beginning back in 1949 when the Department of Interior bought it for Alaskan Air Command’s Clear Air Force Auxiliary Field for use as a Ladd Field gunnery range. It became a Ballistic Missile Early Warning Station.