By Capt. Melissa Bierma
50th Operations Group Detachment 1
SUITLAND, Md. — The 50th Operations Group Detachment 1 has once again joined forces with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and their Reserve counterpart, the 6th Space Operations Squadron, to exercise the Continuity of Operations Plan for the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. This year’s DMSP COOP exercise ran from May 27-31.
The COOP is an annual exercise executed to ensure the DMSP mission can continue uninterrupted should the unexpected happen. The main goal of the exercise is to confirm that operations can be sustained during an actual contingency as required per the DMSP Concept of Operations.
DMSP is the Department of Defense’s sole weather satellite program, providing critical meteorological and environmental data to military and civilian users worldwide. Additionally, DMSP is the Air Force’s longest-running production satellite program and will celebrate its 52nd anniversary in September.
Mission partners from 50th Operations Group Detachment 1, 6 SOPS and NOAA form the core of the DMSP team, who work jointly to carry out this key weather mission. Day to day, Detachment 1 leads DMSP operations, which are primarily executed by NOAA civilians who fall under the Department of Commerce at the primary operations facility in Suitland, Maryland. The alternate DMSP operations site is led by 6 SOPS, an Air Force Reserve unit with the 310th Space Wing located at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado.
The 2014 COOP is distinctive. It is the first time the joint team is leveraging existing technology to improve data exchange between the Department of Commerce and defense systems. Timely data exchange between DOD and DOC systems is vital to supporting a quick and smooth “handoff” of satellite operations from the primary to the alternate facility.
Each year, the DMSP team uses the COOP exercise as a way to focus on improving readiness and resolving any limitations.
This joint exercise between the Defense and Commerce Departments highlights how two diverse agencies can work together to achieve mission success.