The 50th Operations Support Squadron continues to conduct space operator training at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, despite the on-going global pandemic.
Space is a critical warfighting domain, and as such, the 50th OSS must ensure space personnel continue to train and execute the mission.
“Space is essential to both our nation’s security and prosperity,” said Master Sgt. Carl White, 50th OSS operations training flight chief. “From being able to communicate and coordinate actions across vast distances, to weather, intelligence gathering, early warning of an incoming missile attack, to position navigation and timing, all of that either comes from or is enhanced by satellites orbiting the Earth. All the aforementioned capabilities need to be available 24/7/365.”
However, the global pandemic put a halt to many operations in the United States. Although the list is long, it does not include space.
“There are no days off,” White said. “Those [who] wish to do us harm haven’t stopped and our units operating in space haven’t stopped operating.”
Although the unit continues to train Airmen, classes have changed. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, additional safety requirements have been implemented for Airmen.
“Classes have been spread out time-wise to [minimize] contact with other students,” said Airman 1st Class Justin Thomas, 50th OSS student. “We also have to maintain [physical] distancing and wear masks.”
Additionally, the squadron spread out its training locations and limited the number of Airmen allowed to attend each class to 10.
“Some students are training at a facility in town and others are here in the restricted area in the simulators,” White said. ”We also have classes going at the event center here on Schriever [to allow for physical distancing] and [limit the amount] coming into the restricted area, minimizing any potential risks to the operational crews.”
In class, Airmen are taught to understand satellite subsystems, the chain of command on the operations floor, how to operate satellites and basic orbital warfare.
“Our training is mission-essential,” Thomas said. “We have to keep it moving. The sooner we finish our training, the sooner we can back up our assigned units. It’s important warfighters are training as it allows for the continuation of operations.”