Vandenberg Air Force Base is in the area of California known as the Central Coast, northwest of Los Angeles County and south of San Francisco and San Mateo counties. The base is known for its’ missile and space operations run by the 30th Space Wing. Space-oriented testing, launches, training and more are an important part of the operation at Vandenberg, as is support for the Defense Department’s ICBM program featuring the Minuteman III.
Find information about Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, including the main commercial and DSN numbers for the base, information on basic services, base transportation, lodging for TDY and PSCing personnel, and inprocessing.
Mission & Units
Vandenberg Air Force Base is the headquarters for the 30th Space Wing, which as mentioned above is responsible for missile and space operations for the Department of Defense. Part of the base’s operations include putting satellites into “near-polar orbits” from the West Coast. Vandenberg is responsible for those launches plus others such as for deployment of space-based assets, and training. The base also conducts partnerships with federal agencies civilian programs. Important units include:
- 30th Operations Group
- 148th Space Operations Squadron
- 14th Air Force
- 18th Intelligence Squadron
- 1st Air and Space Test Squadron
- 2nd Range Operations Squadron
- 30th Launch Group
- 30th Launch Support Squadron
- 30th Civil Engineering Squadron
- 30th Comptroller Squadron
- 30th Contracting Squadron
- 30th Force Support Squadron
- 30th Logistics Readiness Squadron
- 30th Medical Group
- 30th Medical Operations Squadron
- 30th Medical Support Squadron
- 30th Mission Support Group
- 30th Operations Support Squadron
- 30th Range Management Squadron
- 30th Security Forces Squadron
- 30th Space Communications Squadron
- 381st Training Group
- 381st Training Support Squadron
- 392nd Training Squadron
- 4th Space Launch Squadron
- 532nd Training Squadron
- 533rd Training Squadron
- 576th Flight Test Squadron
- 595th Space Group
- 614th AOC
- 614th SCS
- 9th Space Operations Squadron
- DET 1 22nd Space Operations Squadron
Vandenberg Air Force Base History
Before Vandenberg Air Force Base was established in 1958, it was known as Cooke AFB, and prior to that it was Camp Cooke-an installation set up by the U.S. Army in 1941. Back then, the Defense Department wanted to add to and improve it’s training operations for armored units and infantry, so in 1941 the Army purchased more than 85 thousand acres of land along California’s Central Coast region.
On October 5, 1941, Camp Cooke began operations, and even as the facility was still being constructed the 5th Armored Division arrived there to begin training and preparation for deployment in World War Two.
During World War Two, Camp Cooke was also a Prisoner of War camp, and a military disciplinary barracks was also established for American troops who were sentenced or ordered to do time in a military correctional facility. At the end of the war, Camp Cooke’s days were numbered; the installation closed in 1946.
It would reopen in 1950 to train and deploy troops to the Korean conflict but was again deactivated in 1953. Portions of the camp would be transferred to the Air Force in 1956 and by 1957 groundbreaking ceremonies were scheduled for what would be known as Cooke Air Force Base.
The success of the then-Soviet Union space program in launching Sputnik pushed American space efforts into a new era of competition; In November of 1957, the Department of Defense gave approval for the launch of ballistic missiles from Cooke AFB, and the base would train missile launch crews as an important part of the U.S. Cold War effort.
The base would expand in the coming years, and on October 4, 1958, Cooke AFB was renamed Vandenberg AFB. It was named to honor the second Air Force Chief of Staff.
Over the years, Vandenberg has been an instrumental part of American nuclear deterrence, but it would begin branching out into space-based operations in the late 1950s with the launch of a polar-orbiting satellite, said to be the first of its’ kind.
In the 1970s, Vandenberg AFB was chosen to support the NASA space shuttle program as its’ West Coast landing site, but the facilities were never used as such. In the 1990s, Vandenberg found itself under the jurisdiction of Air Force Space Command.
In modern times, Vandenberg Air Force Base is operated by the 30th Space Wing and according to the Air Force’s official site, the base remains “the only military installation in the United States from which unmanned government and commercial satellites are launched into polar orbit”. Vandenberg is also said to be the only land-based area in the United States where ICBMs are tested and flown.
Main Base Address And Phone Number
Vandenberg Air Force Base, 706 Washington Ave.
Bldg 10122, Vandenberg AFB, CA 93437-622
- DSN 312-276-0039
Important Vandenberg AFB Phone Numbers
- Barracks Single Service Member Housing – (805) 605-2048
- Emergency – 911
- ID CAC Card Processing – (805) 606-2276
- Information and Referral Services – (805) 606-0039
- Legal Services JAG – (805) 605-6200
- VA Facilities – (805) 354-6000
- Welcome Visitors Center – (805) 606-7662
- Base Operator – (805) 606-1110
- Suicide Hotline – (800) 273-8255
- 30th Medical Group – (805) 606-2273
- Air Force Aid Society – (805) 606-0039
- Airman & Family Readiness Center – (805) 606-0039
- Central Appointments, 30th Medical Group – (805) 606-2273
- Child Care, Family Day Care – (805) 606-1555
- Child Care, Infant/Toddler Center – (805) 606-1555
- Education Center – (805) 605-5904
- Exceptional Family Member Program – (805) 606-0039
- Health Benefits Adviser/TRICARE – (800) 444-5445
- Housing Referral Office – (805) 606-3434
- Lodging Office – (805) 606-1844
- School Liaison Officer – (805) 606-0039
- WIC Office – (805) 737-6470
- Family Advocacy Program (FAP) – (805) 606-5338
- Balfour Beatty Communities – (805) 734-1445
- Dormitory Managers 0 (805) 605-2048
- Vandenberg Lodge – (888) 235-6343
- Visitors Center – (805) 606-7662
Vandenberg AFB is roughly nine miles from Lompoc, which is a city in Santa Barbara county on the West Coast. Lompoc is adjacent to the area containing Los Padres National Forest, San Rafael Wilderness, and Sespe Wilderness.
Lompoc is known for its’ wineries and golf courses; you can play a round of golf at Marshallia Ranch Golf Course or La Purisima Golf Course, and sample the latest offerings from Montemar Winery, Transcendence Winery, or the CORE Wine Company Tasting Room just to name a few.
There are also plenty of attractions for retail therapy, outdoor adventures with skydiving at Skydive Santa Barbara (only six miles from Vandenberg), and there’s day spa fun at Magnolia Massage. To the north, the city of Santa Barbara is just under an hour away and offers art, culture, whale watching, and local shopping options with Paseo Nuevo and State Street Shopping.
Inprocessing and Check-In
All personnel arriving at Vandenberg AFB either PCS or TDY are directed to check in with their gaining unit whether on the day of arrival or the next duty day for those arriving after normal hours.
Upon arrival, PCSing troops are allowed eight days of permissive TDY for house hunting. Your gaining unit will help you schedule in-processing and base orientation appointments. First-term military members arriving at Vandenberg AFB for their first assignment will receive a special inprocessing at the First Term Airmen Center (FTAC), which lasts ten days.
Healthcare services are provided at Vandenberg by the 30th Medical Group, which offers comprehensive community health care on base as well with a system of local civilian healthcare providers.
Unlike some military installations, emergency care is available on-base, but when calling 911, it’s important to let the operator know you are calling from Vandenberg AFB and not the local community where applicable.
Call (805) 606-CARE for appointments. Clinics at the on-base facilities include:
- Family Medicine
- Space Missile Medicine
- Physical Therapy & Health and Wellness Center
- Behavioral Health
- TRICARE & TRIWEST
- Outpatient Records/PRP/MEB
The Child Development Center at Vandenberg AFB provides care for children ages six weeks to five years with weekly, full time and part time day pre-school, hourly and special needs care. Care is prioritized at the Vandenberg CDC in the following order:
- Single military and DoD employees
- Dual military and DoD
- Military, DoD employees, employed spouses, and full time students
- All others
Family Child Care (FCC) is also available from certified, inspected on-base providers in base housing.
To arrange CDC care, get on waiting lists, or learn where you are at on a child care waiting list, call 805-606-1555. To sign up for FCC services, call 805-606-4639.
All incoming military members are directed to track and manage their household goods shipments to Vandenberg AFB using the Defense Personal Property System at Move.mil. You can also call the Vandenberg Inbound TMO office for assistance at 805-606-2249.
Dependent And Retiree ID Card Renewal, Replacement, New Issue
ID card services for Vandenberg AFB are available by appointment via the RAPIDS system. The base has limited walk-in hours available for ID card services for dependents, retirees, and active duty military, and waiting times for walk-in services can go upwards of two hours.
Two unexpired forms of approved ID are required and you may be required to furnish REAL ID Act-approved identification. Those requesting ID card services without the presence of the military member may be required to bring a power of attorney authorizing such services.
School age children who live on-base are eligible to attend the Lompoc Unified School District, which operates one elementary school on main base plus a middle school and a charter school in the East Housing Area. The closest area high school for on-base students is in Vandenberg Village, approximately five miles from Vandenberg.
Those living off-base will send their children to schools in the district based on location. To enter Kindergarten, California state law requires children to be five years old before December 2 of the school year. The following immunizations are required before registration of a Kindergarten-age student:
- MMR (measles, mumps, rubella)
- DTP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis)
- Hepatitis B Series (3 doses)
An official immunization record is required prior to registration and enrollment of the kindergarten child. An oral health screening is also required by California law. You can get help with school choice issues with the Vandenberg AFB School Liaison Officer at 805-606-0039
Vandenberg AFB housing is privatized and managed by Vandenberg Family Housing, which in turn is owned by Balfour Beatty Communities. Those who are being reassigned to Vandenberg AFB should contact the base housing office as soon as orders are received; you will learn about the current requirements for housing waiting lists, availability of on-base properties, etc.
A 2017 article published by the Vandenberg AFB official site states that in recent years the base has had traditionally low on-base occupancy rates; new arrivals may find it easier to obtain base housing in light of this than at other bases.
Single and unaccompanied service members assigned to Vandenberg AFB who are in the ranks of E-1 to E-3 or who are in the rank of E-4 (with less than three years of service) are provided on-base housing; those attending training classes at Vandenberg are provided similar accommodations while TDY. Those single or unaccompanied service members in the ranks of E4 and above are required to live off-base in the local community.
Those who live on Vandenberg AFB are warned in their newcomer briefing about finding unexploded ordnance, also known as UXOs, on the base; before the area became formally known as Vandenberg AFB, it was a training site for artillery and anti-aircraft operations. Recent cleanup projects have detected and removed literally thousands of UXOs, but many more could be buried or hidden. Base residents who find UXOs should not touch or disturb the site, but report it immediately to base officials.
PCS and TDY Lodging
Those who need temporary lodging at Vandenberg AFB should make reservations with the Vandenberg Lodge by calling 805-606-1844. There are some pet-friendly facilities available on base, but space may be limited depending on the time of year, PCS season, etc.
Those with PCS orders can make reservations as far out as six months in advance. Those who arrive and cannot get temporary lodging on base must get a certificate of non-availability in order to be reimbursed for off-base lodging.
The usual ride sharing and commercially available transportation is available at area airports, but if PCSing military members have a sponsor they should contact the sponsor to arrange transportation if needed. TDY personnel should check with their gaining TDY unit to see if there are arrangements made for pickup from the airport where appropriate.
Vehicle Registration And Driver’s License
All drivers must have a California license if they are legally residents of the state. Non-resident active duty member must carry either a current California driver’s license or a valid driver’s license issued by service member’s state of residence.
All privately owned vehicles (POVs) on Vandenberg AFB must be in compliance with California state law regarding insurance, emissions, and registration. Base decals are not required to operate POVs on base, but all vehicles are subject to 100% ID checks. Motorcycle operators are required to pass safety training courses to operate any two-wheeled vehicle.