AFTAC gets first-ever Space Force vice commander
By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs
/ Published August 30, 2021
PATRICK SPACE FORCE BASE, Fla. -- For the first time in its history, the Air Force Technical Applications Center has a Space Force colonel as the vice commander.
Col. Richard R. Beckman took the oath of office Aug. 20, officially swearing him into the U.S. Space Force at a ceremony held at the nuclear treaty monitoring center here.
The colonel arrived at Patrick SFB in July and waited until August to transfer from one branch to another after receiving full Senate confirmation to do so.
His decision to become a Space Force Guardian wasn’t made in a vacuum. After conferring with his professional mentors and his wife and children, he applied for transfer on the very last day of eligibility. “It was not a decision I took lightly, and I wanted to make sure my wife and children were comfortable that this was the right move for our family.”
At first, his wife was puzzled by the process. “Melanie couldn’t understand why I would resign my Air Force commission at 20-plus years to join a new branch of the military, but upon further reflection and conversation, she agreed that this opportunity was merely an extension of what I have been doing for the Air Force for the majority of my career.”
Beckman received his commission in 1999 through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Tulane University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. Immediately after graduation, he was accepted into the Air Force Institute of Technology’s Distance Learning Program (also at Tulane) to continue his education. Within two years, he completed his master’s and doctorate degrees in Electrical Engineering, with an emphasis on positioning, navigation and timing systems for autonomous underwater surveillance systems.
In 2001, he entered active duty as a Navigation Warfare Technology program manager at the Air Force Research Laboratory in Ohio. For the next several years, he served in multiple assignments spanning the full intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance acquisition life cycle from research and development to sustainment. He has been a research and lead test engineer, branch chief, program manager, element monitor, and materiel leader. This is his first command position.
As the organization’s vice commander, Beckman is responsible for supporting the wing commander’s vision and priorities, and ensuring the workforce has the training and tools needed to safely and successfully accomplish their global mission. Additionally, the vice assists with leading, managing and developing AFTAC’s 1,000+ team of active duty Airmen, civilian personnel and defense contractors.
AFTAC’s newest Guardian has made a career of making sure grass doesn’t grow under his feet. In addition to being professionally published more than a dozen times, Beckman also holds two U.S. patents – one for an underwater vessel positioning system and another for localizing of submerged tow vehicles.
“I’ve had an incredible career to date, and this latest chapter allows me to align my future goals with my 22 years of experience so I can help mentor, develop and grow the force as we begin to treat space as a warfighting domain,” Beckman said. “I hope I can bring a unique perspective to AFTAC and open the door for new partnerships and opportunities to enhance our mission capabilities for the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Space Force.”
He added, “I am honored to have been selected to help lead the immensely talented and skilled workforce here at AFTAC and I look forward to being part of this team over the next two years.”