When the United States Space Force was launched in February 2019, it created a new division of the military to go along with the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. With such a futuristic name, and a mission that’s out of this world, you might be surprised to learn that the branch’s latest recruit isn’t a computer genius or military mind at all; instead, the latest addition to the Space Force is a horse, of course.
His name is Ghost, a mustang. Ghost joins four Quarter Horses at the Vandenberg Airforce Base in California as part of the Military Working Horse law enforcement unit. The base is home to the 30th Space Wing and supports West Coast launch activities for the Air Force, Department of Defense, National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The “Wing” also is the site of launches for disposable space vehicles like the Atlas V, Taurus and the aptly named Pegasus, among others.
Now, before you panic, Ghost the Space Force horse will not be sent into space or used in military battles. Instead, he and his equine companions are used to patrol the nearly 100,000 acres of California coastline that make up the Vandenberg Base. According to Vandenberg’s website, the base has a “wealth of valuable cultural and ecological treasures” and is recognized for “protecting and preserving its 42 miles of pristine coastline, 9,000 acres of sand dunes, 5,000 acres of wetlands, and more than 1,600 irreplaceable prehistoric archeological resources.” It’s also home to five Native American villages, a National Historic trail and 26 Cold War-era complexes.”
If you think this all sounds like a movie set, you’re not alone. However, one of the tasks to ensuring these vital resources are kept safe is land patrol. The Working Horse unit enforces US Fish and Gaming laws and it’s an important job, with the unit having responded to both humans and animals in distress. And horses have a much smaller ecological footprint than an ATV, and can go where no man has gone before – well not exactly, but horses are a great way to patrol the base which is home to over 15 different endangered or threatened species.
“We are able to go through creeks and water with the horses, high hills that we wouldn’t be able to get through with off-road vehicles,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Michael Terrazas, in a 2019 release . “There are places we’ve gone where the water is so deep that my boots are wet while on horseback, but the horses can walk through with no problems.”
We think Ghost and his fellow military herd do an amazing and important job, as well as promote a love of horses. Let’s just say it’s a giant hoofprint for horse-kind!
You can check out Ghost here: