Commentary by Col. Wayne Monteith
50th Space Wing Commander
Reading the title of this article you may have perceived “change” to be the 300 plus days I’ve been here at the wing, or possibly the changes that have occurred during that time, or maybe even the changes that are coming to the wing. Actually, the title reflects all three of these explanations.
It’s been 317 days since I accepted the guidon from Brig. Gen. Chun and I am as enthusiastic and excited about coming to work today as I was on that sunny August afternoon. But, it is hard to believe that nine months have passed so quickly. That is really about the only “downside” of command…if you’re not careful, if you’re not paying attention the time seems to transpire, or expire, all too quickly. Then before you know it, you’ve run out of time for all those things you hoped to accomplish and all those people you hoped to get to know better.
Fortunately, the wing front office staff has kept my calendar full and ensured we didn’t waste a single day. I’ve had the opportunity to stop into most of your spaces and visit most of our GSUs. I can tell you from personal experience that I am overwhelmed by the professionalism and “can do” attitudes of the great women and men I’ve met. Day in and day out this wing is providing combat effects from space and doing it flawlessly. We’ve also done it amid a high ops tempo and changes that run the spectrum from operational C2 systems to support functions.
The Network Operations Group led the biggest C2 change to the Air Force Satellite Control Network in over a decade. This upgrade touched every single site in the group and we are already reaping the fruits of that labor. Additionally, the NOG refocused their efforts on our aging and often overlooked detachments around the world and poured manpower and money into everything from operations to Quality of Life initiatives. 21 SOPS reached Initial Operational Capability at their new home at Vandenberg AFB and 23 SOPS continued explosive ordnance disposal across their entire installation.
The Operations Group was as busy as they’ve ever been. Second SOPS helped field the GPS Architectural Evolution Program C2 upgrade, while also bringing the last GPS IIR-M into the constellation and is currently flying the first GPS IIF vehicle through its paces. The men and women of 4 SOPS fielded an entirely new C2 system in preparation of the first Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite launch next month while also flawlessly operating the Milstar constellation. Likewise, our 3 SOPS professionals brought Wideband Global Satellite-2 into the operational fold last year and just accepted Satellite Control Authority for WGS-3 last week…a tremendous bandwidth increase for our deployed forces…and they continued to operate our aging but still capable Defense Satellite Communications System vehicles. Finally, 1 SOPS accepted SCA and began mission planning for TacSat-3, while also awaiting the launch next month of the Space Based Space Surveillance satellite.
Our Mission Support Group has been busy bedding down the first 170 of 242 families moving onto Schriever and trying to stand up our support functions to accommodate this change on our base. Our Defenders have polished their skills to protect our National resources while also learning the Law Enforcement aspect of having families living on base. Similarly our Force Support Squadron has moved mountains to prepare the base, while also ensuring the other 5,000 members of our wing are also provided the same outstanding level of support they’ve come to expect. Our Civil Engineers have been knocking themselves out to accomplish all of the construction initiatives we’ve started. Additionally, to enhance safety and take care of our folks, we’ve raised speed limits and removed stop signs (where it makes sense), changed Reveille to facilitate our traffic flow coming onto base, and modified our dining facility hours to allow our Airmen the chance to eat dinner here on base.
Lastly, our wing staff agencies have stayed busy doing what they do best…taking care of our people. From ensuring your pay is correct, to watching out for your rights under the Inspector General and Equal Opportunity offices. Our exercise folks worked tirelessly to prepare us for the AFSPC IG and as AFSPC pointed out our Legal office is second to none!
If all that wasn’t enough, we successfully demonstrated our combat capability over the course of 21 days, in front of 97 inspectors, by passing our Operational Readiness and Unit Compliance Inspections! And as a final coup de gras, we successfully completed a Limited ORI just this past week by demonstrating our ability to transfer all mission operations to our back-up facilities.
Wow, that was a pretty busy 317 days. But, we cannot rest on our laurels and the change continues. Summer is the time for personnel changes and this is no different for us. We welcome new commanders Lt. Col. Theresa Malasavage (50 OSS), Lt. Col. Jennifer Grant (2 SOPS), Lt. Col. Fred Taylor (50 SCS), Lt. Col. Kevin Williams (50 CES), Col. Mike Finn (50 NOG), Col. John Shaw (50 OG) and Col. Mike Mason (50 SW/CV) to the Fighting 50th.
Looking at the horizon it appears we’ll stay very busy. Operationally we’ll receive GPS IIF-2 and Operationally Responsive Space-1 before the end of the year. We’ll continue fielding Remote Tracking Station Block Change upgrades in the NOG and the 14 AF/CC just approved our plan to realign our Detachments from 22 SOPS over to 21 and 23 SOPS.
We have new Installation Excellence and Quality of Life projects on-going, new road construction to further improve access, parking lot changes, a temporary athletic field house is being constructed to support winter physical fitness training, a temporary youth center is going up near the fitness center and we are restarting wing warfit runs and beginning wing promotion ceremonies.
From the looks of things, the rest of the time I am fortunate enough to serve you as your commander we’ll indeed be busy. So, while it may seem I never have enough time to thank you individually, or to take the time to properly recognize your accomplishments, understand that I know how hard you work to make a difference and to maintain your professionalism while you mentor, motivate and inspire those around you. It is still my distinct honor to don my uniform each morning and to serve you, the men and women of the 50th Space Wing and our great Nation.