By Scott Prater
Gen. C. Robert Kehler, U.S. Strategic Command commander, recently announced the 2012 Omaha Trophy winners, and for the second time in three years, the 50th Space Wing captured the trophy for Global Operations.
The trophy is awarded annually to military units that demonstrate the highest performance standards in USSTRATCOM’s global strategic mission.
Selections are based on formal evaluations, meritorious achievement, safety and other factors such as community involvement and humanitarian actions. The 50 SW was joined this year by three other 2012 Omaha Trophy winners: the 90th Missile Wing, F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., USS Alaska (SSBN 732), Naval Submarie Base, Kings Bay, Ga. and the Strategic Communications Wing One, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.
“These units demonstrated the highest standards of performance in support of USSTRATCOM’s array of capabilities in space, cyberspace and strategic deterrence,” Kehler said. “We applaud the members of these units for their outstanding contributions and extend our heartiest congratulations on their selection for this prestigious award.”
The 50th earned the Global Operations honor after careful consideration by a committee composed of military members within USSTRATCOM, according to Bonita Kristensen, a spokesperson for the command, however, Kehler made the final decision.
“What’s most significant about this honor is that it’s a strategic command level award,” said 1st Lt. Matthew Pylypciw, 50 SW commander’s action group chief. “A lot of the awards we’ve won in the past are Air Force or Air Force Space Command-specific awards. The Omaha is unique because it’s a joint award and includes all of the services that report to USSTRATCOM.”
Last year was a particularly successful one for the 50 SW, which recorded its best-ever global position, timing and navigation signal through GPS. The wing also improved its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability and its space situational awareness capability, as well as delivered the most military satellite communication effects to date.
The 1st Space Operations Squadron also developed a new type of crew management program that can potentially be implemented across other squadrons.
The 50th Network Operations Group also had a banner year. The Air Force Satellite Control Network completed more than 157,000 vehicle contacts while the Global Broadcast System ensured support to nine combatant commands. In addition the 50 NOG provided highly reliable communications support to AFSPC missions worldwide through the Space Command Digital Integrated Network. They also upgraded 75 percent of their clients to new Global Command and Control System Software.
Of course, all of the operations occurring inside Schriever’s restricted area require heavy infrastructure up keep. With such a vital and unique mission taking place, operations floors must operate 24 hours, seven days a week. Pylypciw said this fact underscores the significance of the wing’s support functions.
While its operations squadrons showed superior mission accomplishments in 2012, the wing also performed well in formal evaluations and inspections, earning an overall “excellent” rating in Air Force Space Command’s compliance inspection. The CUI rated the wing in 47 areas. Of those, the 50 SW earned eight outstanding marks, 13 excellent marks and 45 strengths.
By year’s end, the wing also learned it had captured several top-level awards, including the 2011 General Robert T. Herres award for top space wing in AFSPC and the General Thomas S. Moorman, Jr. award as top wing with a space mission. The wing even managed to win an award on a worldwide scale, earning the International Astronautical Federation Award for its GPS mission.
“Each and every person in the 50th Space Wing contributed to the successful innovations, operations and community involvement that led to this award,” said Col. James Ross, 50 SW commander. “When you think about the title of the award, ‘Global Operations Trophy,’ it’s apparent why the 50th Space Wing is such a strong contender every year. Not many organizations provide effects as far-reaching as the 50th Space Wing, both to the military and civilian community. This award acknowledges our continued contributions to joint operations by delivering decisive global effects. Winning this award is a fantastic accomplishment for our wing. Winning it twice in three years is truly outstanding. I am very proud to be a part of this team.”
Wing leaders have not received word on when the Omaha Trophy will arrive at Schriever or who will present the honor, but Ross expects to host a ceremony to celebrate the award in the near future.