By Staff Sgt. Robert Cloys
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
It’s a battle of wit. From May 28 to June 24, a competition created to break the mold, assess performance and ultimately identify and recognize the one crew best prepared to operate in ill-defined emergency situations is slated to take place.
The brain child of Maj. Frankie Reddick, 50th Operations Group chief of the standardization and evaluation section, the RED FALCON Crew Competition was developed to inspire and encourage 50th Operations Group crews to develop expertise in their respective systems and foster the normalization of non-routine mission protection procedures throughout the crew force.
The competitions name ties to Schriever heritage as well as the color typically associated with severe satellite out-of limit indicators.
“I read an article by then Col. John Hyten and he described a few problems he saw in 2006. I realized we were seeing some of the same things today,” said Reddick. “With RED FALCON we’re trying to foster a deeper understanding of our weapon systems. If our satellite vehicle operators have a better understanding of how their system works, they will also have a better understanding of why a checklist step is there.”
The scenarios prepared will test the crews’ ability to think beyond the checklist they are running.
“Evaluation rules are being thrown out,” said Capt. Kenneth Grosselin, 4 Space Operations Squadron AEHF senior crew evaluator. “Therefore, RED FALCON is being used to get the crew force to think about situations where they may have to act in a hostile environment.”
The 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Space Operations Squadrons will face off in a competition consisting of three phases.
Phase 1 is a knowledge assessment. Each of the SOPS will designate a crew to take a written test. Highest scoring crews will continue on to represent their squadron at the group level for the remaining phases of the competition. The test will consist of short response questions on weapon system technical orders and other relevant manuals.
Phase 2 will test crews with challenging crew performance assessments with the potential to stump even the most proficient operators.
“The assessment script will focus on severe mission-protection scenarios that are not currently trained or evaluated. Unprecedented stimuli, concurrently timed performance standards, and ill-defined prioritization requirements will force the selected crews to think analytically and solve problems based on their knowledge of their respective system,” said Grosselin. “For example, concurrent time-sensitive anomalies on separate satellite vehicles may force a satellite vehicle operator to choose which one to save.”
Each of the scenarios will be specific to the operations squadron running them.
“At a minimum, each script will include a mission protection scenario that jeopardizes satellite command and control, a scenario that has the potential to affect users, concurrent time-sensitive inputs and at least two untrained stimuli,” said Grosselin.
The third and final phase of the competition consists of a debrief assignment.
“The debrief will give participants the ability to highlight what they have learned from the scenarios. The competition isn’t meant to create situations that are so difficult they are unable to take anything away from it,” said Reddick.
The crews will be ranked on overall performance throughout the three-phase competition.
“The Air Force has a long history of utilizing competition to bring out the very best in our Airmen,” said Col. Tommy Roberts, 50 OG commander. “RED FALCON is a wonderful initiative to encourage preparation and performance across the crew force. Only one crew will win, but hopefully by competing we will raise the level of all our operators.”