By 1st Lt. Shawn Woodall Jr.
4th Space Operations Squadron
For nearly 20 years, the men and women of the 4th Space Operations Squadron have been providing protected military satellite communications to the Department of Defense. Though April 30 marks the 20-year milestone for the squadron, 4 SOPS lineage dates back to the early 1940s.
The squadron began with the activation of the 4th Photographic Squadron June 10, 1941, at March Field, Calif. In World War II, the unit saw a lot of action in the Pacific Theater and was highly decorated.
The unit experienced a few more activations and deactivations before it was activated with its current designation. The 4 SOPS, as we know it today, was activated April 30, 1992, with the charge to operate highly protected military satellite communications operating the Milstar Constellation. Today, along with operating Milstar, 4 SOPS recently took control of the Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite communications system.
With this, the unit celebrated its 20th anniversary, April 20, with a series of events. Lt. Col. Scott Trinrud, 4 SOPS commander, and Brig. Gen. Roger Teague, Space and Missile Systems Center vice commander, kicked off the celebration with opening remarks at the Bldg. 210 Atrium. The 4 SOPS also hosted a social event in the evening at Peterson Air Force Base club, where Trinrud and former squadron commanders gave remarks about the squadron and its achievements.
“It’s an honor to be a part of a squadron with a proud heritage and a critical mission,” said Lt. Col. Patrick Long, 4 SOPS director of operations.
As part of its mission, the squadron commands and controls the Air Force-protected MILSATCOM systems, which provide warfighters global, secure, survivable, strategic and tactical communication during peacetime and throughout the full spectrum of conflict. The 4 SOPS’ motto, “Linking the Forces,” mirrors the squadron’s responsibility to enhance the nation’s secure communications capability for today’s military forces. The squadron operates the Milstar/AEHF satellite constellation through the Air Force Satellite Control Network, Protected Satellite Operations Center and Mobile Constellation Control Stations. The Milstar/AEHF constellation links command authorities to high-priority U.S. forces via communications terminals onboard aircraft, ships, submarines, trucks and ground sites with encrypted facsimile, teletype, data or voice communications.
Another aspect to the 4 SOPS mission consists of its mobile operations, whose operators are ready to deploy at a moment’s notice. They deploy with the commanders of U.S. Northern Command and Strategic Command, supplying survivable, enduring and secure communications and constellation command and control throughout the entire spectrum of conflict, which includes trans- and post-attack phases of nuclear war.
“Our mobile capability offers uniqueness unknown to any other squadron that provides MILSATCOM,” said 1st Lt. Kris Walker, mobile operations engineer. “This exceptionality makes 4 SOPS critical to routine, as well as contingency operations.”
As the squadron moves forward with satellite operations, DoD users can be assured that 4 SOPS will continue to provide military satellite communications for many years to come.