Year in Review: Celebrating Milestones

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  • 50th Space Wing Public Affairs

Nelson Mandela once said, “Remember to celebrate milestones for the road ahead.” As we prepare for our road ahead, let’s remember some of our milestones as Team Schriever in 2017.

While we would need reams of paper to fully encapsulate all the hard work and achievements of Team Schriever, here are a few of the highlights.

One of the first milestones was in February when our wing celebrated the 25th anniversary of its assignment to Schriever with a time capsule ceremony in the atrium of Building 210.

“Fifteen years ago today, our predecessors buried a time capsule at the northwest corner of the building with instructions that it be opened today,” said Randy Saunders, then 50th Space Wing historian. “That day marked the 10th anniversary of the 50th Space Wing at Schriever Air Force Base.”

Each of the wing’s squadrons had placed something in the time capsule, most contributing at least a squadron coin and/or unit patch. Other items included group photos, unit/squadron descriptive articles, CD-ROMs and a commemorative 10th anniversary coin.

The wing buried a new time capsule, which is scheduled to be unearthed June 1, 2049, the 100th anniversary of the wing.

Summer proved to be a busy season of milestones for Schriever in 2017.

In May, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson made a visit to the base. Her visit was to better understand the mission of Schriever’s Airmen and how they work with a contested environment in space.

In June, the base celebrated the opening of the new Schriever event center with a ribbon cutting ceremony and free concert.

During the ceremony, Col. Anthony Mastalir, then 50th Space Wing vice commander and event host, emphasized its importance.

“When I first got here at Schriever there really wasn't much here; there was a double fence, barbed wire at the top, a few buildings in the restricted area and not much else,” Mastalir. said "We've grown slowly, and built piece by piece -- but this piece has been missing for a long time.
An opportunity to kick our boots off, have a cold beverage of our choice and enjoy the company of people we work with, live with and serve with."

The center, located in Building 20, serves as an area of support for Schriever Airmen to host events, engage in recreational activities and rent equipment, among other services. It has been heavily used since its opening.

On the operational side of the house, June continued to be a month of milestones as the 3rd Space Operations Squadron inactivated and then merged with the 4th Space Operations Squadron during a change of command ceremony at the 50th Space Wing headquarters building.

Leadership wanted to use ground system automation capabilities to run the Wideband Global SATCOM satellites and the Defense Satellite Communications System III constellations. This experiment reduced a six-person crew to one person on the operations floor. In January, this became a reality and enabled 3 SOPS crews to integrate with 4 SOPS to have all military satellite communications under one unified squadron.

“It is always difficult for any squadron to inactivate and say goodbye to the family and culture that created that innovation; it is bittersweet,” said Lt. Col. Joshua Brooks, then 3rd SOPS commander. “I can say without a doubt, most people are excited looking forward to the opportunities of what 4 SOPS will be able to do. 4 SOPS has always been our sister squadron and we’ve always had a good- natured rivalry between the squadrons.”

As the two squadrons integrated, 4 SOPS recently became one of the largest space operation squadrons in the U.S. Air Force.

To cap off June, Vice President Michael Pence made history by being the first vice president to not only visit Schriever, but also the first to send a payload command to a Global Positioning System satellite.

“You direct no fewer than 175 American satellites that are crucial to our national security every day -- in weather, communications, and early warning of foreign missile tests. Every American benefits from your efforts here -- the world’s only global utility, the GPS system that’s essential to our daily life,” Pence said. “I can assure you that you have the support of your Commander-in-Chief and of his number two and of our entire administration. You have the support of the Congress of the United States and the support of the American people that they represent.”

Pence was on base, along with Second Lady Karen Pence, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and Gen. Jay Raymond, commander of Air Force Space Command, for a space orientation in support of the administration’s relaunch of the National Space Council.

In July, our wing welcomed new leadership during a change-of-command ceremony with Lt. Gen. David J. Buck, commander, 14th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic) and Joint Functional Component Command for Space presiding over the ceremony that gave the wing’s reigns to Col. Jennifer Grant.

Grant came to Schriever leaving her post as 30th Operations Group commander at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Grant previously commanded at Schriever as the 2nd Space Operations Squadron commander from August 2010 to June 2012.

“I am extremely humbled, honored, and excited to be returning to Schriever. This will be my third assignment here, and in a lot of ways it feels like coming home to the Masters of Space,” said Grant.

As the weather started to cool off in September, Grant hosted an all-call to roll out the wing’s new mission statement, vision and priorities.

The new mission statement, vision and priorities focus on space and cyberspace as warfighting domains - a point made by Gen. Jay Raymond, commander, Air Force Space Command.

“Space superiority is no longer a birthright,” Raymond said. “In the future, we may have to fight for that space superiority if we get into a high end fight.”

Grant credited this changing environment and base’s growing role in current operations for the needed change. 50 SW Mission: Evolve space and cyberspace warfighting superiority through integrated and innovative operations.

The new mission statement focuses on evolving space and cyber warfighting superiority and the need to incorporate new techniques and fresh ideas to stay ahead of our enemies.

“Space is not a benign operating environment anymore, our potential adversaries are getting closer to us in capability,” Grant said. “We need to maintain the edge we have. We have an obligation to maintain space and cyberspace superiority.”

50 SW Vision: One team … mastering space and cyberspace operations … now and into the future.

The wing’s vision spotlights to the importance of Schriever Airmen working together in support of the mission.

“One team in this wing and through our partnerships means we are in sync, that we recognize the value each of our organizations brings together,” Grant said.

Grant explained this unity can be successfully accomplished by maintaining the wing’s priorities.

50 SW Priorities:

Successfully and innovatively execute today’s operations.

Grant accredited the work of Schriever Airmen thus far in accomplishing the mission, and stressed the base’s critical role in Air Force Space Command.

“We are the only place on the planet that provides GPS, we execute space-based situational awareness and we’re responsible for military based satellite communications. You can’t go anywhere else to do what we do here,” she said.

Plan and posture for tomorrow’s engagements

The second priority focuses on Airmen managing proactive prevention in preparation for future events.

“As we proactively prepare for potential adversary activities, we also emphasize we do not want a conflict in space,” Grant said. “We aim to deter conflict. But we always need to be ready, as one team.”

Take care of our Airmen and families always

Grant’s final priority is ensuring base morale remains high and corresponds with the output of Airmen supporting the mission.

In November, the 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron gathered to say goodbye to the Automated Navigation and Guidance Experiment for Local Space satellite during a final command ceremony.

ANGELS was an experimental satellite that tested the boundaries of orbital mechanics and capabilities of space systems. It was launched in July 2014 and was initially managed by the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.

We arrive in 2018 with many landmarks achieved in 2017, but as we charge ahead we must never cease to acknowledge our achievements, while interminably elevating the bar a little higher each time we surmount it.