February 4, 2016 – The 50th Space Wing is leading the command as the first to successfully achieve Space Mission Force initial capability. On February 1, 50th Operations Group crews “rolled forward” in support of Air Force Space Command’s transformation of the entire Space Mission Enterprise heralding the beginning of a substantial cultural and organizational shift to ensure the entire space force is prepared to fight through and win in a contested, degraded and operationally-limited environment.
“Through the Space Mission Force construct we are revamping our crews to respond appropriately in a dynamic environment,” said Col. DeAnna M. Burt, 50th Space Wing commander. “We are aligning to be more consistent with the Air Force, which will allow us to focus on advanced training to prepare our forces to effectively deal with the threats they have today.”
To the wing, this transition involved personnel structure and training program changes. In October 2015, the operations crews shifted to a four month rotation during which time the members are part of the Space Mission Task Force performing the operational mission. These forces are presented to the United States Strategic Command commander for combatant command requirements. The bulk of the remaining operations personnel enter a dwell period in order to tackle advanced training to prepare for the mission in a contested environment.
“This normalizes our force presentation and training program with other Air Force readiness forces,” said Col. Dennis Bythewood, 50th Operations Group commander who oversees the bulk of the units primarily involved in the transition here. “This not only ensures that we can meet our nation’s current need for enduring space capabilities, but also delivers dedicated training time to ensure our space forces can deliver those same space effects in an increasingly contested space domain.”
The SMF construct establishes a Ready Spacecrew Program that provides for continuation training aimed at maintaining spacecrew proficiency as well as advanced training that is designed to advance the skills, knowledge, and competencies required to accomplish the mission in a contested, degraded, and operationally limited environment. This program includes all the personnel required to successfully perform combatant commander missions in the face of dynamic and varied threats.
“This transition impacts more than our satellite operations personnel,” said Bythewood. “We’ve added our mission planning and intelligence personnel required to execute the mission, for example, to the forces presented to USSTRATCOM. These forces are actively engaged in the combatant commander’s site picture for what resources are needed to execute the mission.”
SMF establishes a distinct dwell time for crews to conduct advanced training as well as overhauls how training, evaluations and assessments, proficiency and crew force management are accomplished.
“During the dedicated dwell time, we’ll review new threats and teach crews how to respond and work through threats in order to continue to provide global combat effects,” said Bythewood. “We’re stepping through all of these changes at once but I know it will take a couple cycles for us to normalize these changes and make additional adjustments as needed to meet the intent of the Air Force Space Command commander, General John Hyten. This major shift in how we do business comes on the heels of our 75th anniversary as an operations group and no doubt lays the foundation for the great achievements that await us.”