By Staff Sgt. Patricia Montez
16th Space Control Squadron
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The Chinese zodiac chart may have referred to 2011 as the year of the Rabbit, but in Air Force Space Command it was definitely the year of the Cobra; the 16th Space Control Squadron Cobra that is, Air Force Space Command’s first defensive counterspace unit.
The Cobras had many accomplishments in 2011, which included making history, achieving unit milestones, changes in command, awards and promotions.
Starting the year off strong, the 16th Space Control Squadron and its reserve associate unit, the 380th Space Control Squadron, became part of AFSPC history by participating in the annual Red Flag exercise.
Red Flag was held at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., in February 2011, where the 16th and the 380th involvement helped shape future war fighting techniques and procedures. The exercise created a realistic training environment where operators of both units were able to demonstrate combat-critical effects alongside air, space and cyber capabilities.
“Our team of skilled operators brought years of deployed defensive counterspace experience to Red Flag, helping to characterize (satellite communication) interference and geolocate where the signals of interest were being transmitted from,” said Lt. Col. Paul Tombarge, former 16th SPCS commander.
“The data we produced was synthesized at the Combined Air Operations Center with air and cyber information to truly create synergistic effects,” he said.
The Cobras continued to make milestones in the spring of 2011 with the first Bounty Hunter deployment completed by the two units.
The summer brought more great things for the Cobras with the official ground breaking of Rapid Attack Identification Detection Reporting System sites. The RAIDRS system performs detection and reporting on both ground and space-based elements of operational space systems.
Continuing with unit “firsts,” the Cobras and 380th Crows completed their first full year of Standardized Process for Interference Reporting and Interference Targeting system operations and the RAIDRS system received its first dedicated defensive counterspace trainer which will provide crucial instruction in the system training process.
While the missions were undergoing many changes, so did the commands of both units. The 16th SPCS welcomed Lt. Col. Roger Sherman as its squadron commander and bid farewell to Lt. Col. Paul Tombarge, who went on to become the 21st Operations Group’s deputy commander. The 380th welcomed Lt. Col. Robert W. Claude as squadron commander and bid farewell to Lt. Col. Michael A. Assid. The 16th also had a change in squadron superintendants this past year with Master Sgt. Jason Lange taking the place of Senior Master Sgt. Joe Stratil.
Despite these major adjustments, the units managed to make the transition a smooth one.
One of the many highlights for the Cobras in 2011 included being presented the Chief Master Sgt. Robert G.V. Pecqueur Award on Sept. 21 from Lt. Gen. Michael Basla, Air Force Space Command vice commander.
This award recognizes the best space control squadron in AFSPC and this was the first time it was awarded to the 16th SPCS, “but not the last!” Sherman said.
To add to the already long list of triumphs, the following members were promoted in 2011: Senior Master Sgts. Kahn Scalise and Carl Weaver; Master Sgts. Sue Thompson, Jimmy Smith, Randy Reigel and Shaunita Harris; Tech. Sgts. Nicholas Villagomez and Brian Popham; Staff Sgt. Laura Lowrance; and Airman 1st Class Jamie Alexy.
The Cobras also held a unique long-distance promotion ceremony for 1st Lt. Guinevere Bernard. The ceremony was held at Peterson Air Force Base, with her husband Capt. Robert Bernard, administering the oath from more than 7,700 miles away at a deployed site.
The Cobras had an outstanding year in 2011, but they are not stopping there. They have already demonstrated potential for an explosive 2012 with the birth of RAIDRS-Block 10 and the groundbreaking of a new permanent facility at Peterson Air Force Base.
For all those who still want to believe that 2011 was the Year of the Rabbit, just remember that in the real world, Cobras eat rabbits.