By Brian Hagberg
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
More than 35 civic leaders, retired Air Force members and representatives from Colorado Springs, Colorado, attended Schriever Air Force Base’s first State of the Base address here Feb. 25.
Col. Bill Liquori, 50th Space Wing commander; Col. Damon Feltman, 310th Space Wing commander; Lt. Col. Danny Nguyen, United States Air Force Warfare Center representative; and Col. Kel Robinson, assistant to the Director Missile Defense Agency, detailed what each of their units does and how they impact both Schriever and the Colorado Springs community.
Liquori highlighted Airmen from multiple units to explain how the wing operates on a day-to-day basis, as well as the numerous achievements the base and its personnel earned in 2014.
“I was blessed when they said, ‘Here’s where you’re going to work’,” Liquori said. “The team of folks that is here every day is just doing amazing things and it’s just wonderful to be here and be a part of it.”
Liquori began the presentation with an explanation of the 50 SW, its group and personnel makeup, basic operational command of satellites and the wing’s mission and vision statements. He had high praise when discussing the vision statement, which he summarized as simply saying the 50 SW wants to be the best at what they do.
“I humbly and firmly believe that we are (the best),” he said. “I don’t think there’s a better satellite operations unit out there. The team that we have doing this business is second to none.”
He focused on the benefits provided around the world from satellites under command and control of units at Schriever, such as weather satellites and the GPS constellation.
“The way he did this was really great,” said City Councilman Don Knight. “I’m a retired space guy so it was a good reminder of what’s happening and what the challenges are.”
Feltman’s address on the 310 SW illustrated how the Reserve wing provides support not just to the 50 SW, but also the 21st Space Wing, 460th Space Wing and Joint Space Operations Center as well.
“We are in four locations,” Feltman said. “We support missions here, at Peterson, Buckley and Vandenberg. The 310 SW is unique in the sense that we support multiple wings simultaneously.”
The 310 SW is the only space wing in the Air Force Reserve Command and is home to 20 percent of the Air Force’s capacity of space operators, Feltman added. The wing is the second largest space wing in the Air Force, just behind the 50 SW.
While explaining the importance of maintaining a positive relationship with the community, Liquori presented the economic impact all four military bases, Schriever, Peterson Air Force Base, the U.S. Air Force Academy and Fort Carson, had on Colorado Springs in fiscal 2013. The four installations combined to pour $5.49 billion into the local economy, with Schriever alone contributing $908 million.
“I tell our newcomers every month that they could not have moved to a better community as Airmen,” Liquori said. “I have never lived anywhere where the community appreciates its Airmen as much as Colorado Springs does.”
In addition to the economic impact, Liquori also spoke about other ways in which Team Schriever members give back to the community. Specifically touching on the efforts of Airmen and reservists from the 25th and 379th Space Range Squadrons to help rebuild areas affected by the Black Forest Fire. The Colorado Springs community does so much for Schriever, that members are constantly looking for ways to give back, even in unfortunate circumstances such as the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires, he said.
Feltman also highlighted community connections when speaking about the 310 SW, as many of its members are citizen-Airmen who call Colorado Springs their permanent home.
“We affectionately describe the Reserve component as the ‘hometown Air Force’,” Feltman said. “Most of the Airmen I command aren’t here today because they are in the community. They are working for the school districts, they are working for the law enforcement agencies and they are working for the fire agencies.”
Meanwhile, Nguyen explained how the different components of the USAFWC work together to help improve combat capabilities. He described some of the ways Schriever Airmen operating the space range are utilizing innovation to prepare for the future.
“We develop full spectrum capabilities,” Nguyen said. “We do that through a joint task team, advanced training and tactics development. Most importantly, we do that through innovation. We not only support current combat capabilities, but we’re preparing for the future of combat.”
Robinson highlighted the MDA mission, which is to provide missile defense technologies and capabilities that allow for defense of U.S. interests. MDA has units across the country, but the responsibility of those assigned to Schriever is to contribute critical national capabilities through data routing and command and control of national missile defense forces.
“The Missile Defense Integration and Operations Center is here,” Robinson said. “MDA has about 250 government civilians and military stationed here, plus we’re host to Strategic Command’s Joint Force Component for Integrated Missile Defense. All of these units are centralized here in Colorado Springs.”
Liquori also spoke about the Unit Effectiveness Inspection, which he referred to as “a small emotional event for the base,” and the work that went into earning an overall “Effective” score for Schriever, including 16 of 28 “Highly Effective” categories.
Additionally, the recent Command Cyber Readiness Inspection showed significant improvement from 2014 as both Non-Classified Internet Protocol and Secret Internet Protocol Network categories received scores of Excellent, Liquori said.
Overall response to the address seemed positive, with many in attendance saying they hoped to see the State of the Base become a regular event.
“It’s so impressive to come out here and see the people who are here,” said Dr. Patrick Cullen, Ellicott School District superintendent. “These are incredibly smart people who are showing some exceptional, unbelievable ideas.”
“A lot of (State of the Base addresses), it’s just the wing king standing up and speaking and by bringing in the Airmen, that was a personal touch,” Knight said. “From a city council perspective, it was great and I hope we continue these annually.”
Barthel said he thought the utilization of Airmen was a great way to tell the story of Schriever and that it resonated with the local community. Hopefully the time they took was worth getting to know the base a bit better, he added.
“They’re very busy folks and they took time out of their schedule to spend time with us today,” Barthel said. “Hopefully, they enjoyed the presentations and walk away a little bit smarter about what we provide for our nation here at Schriever.”
The commander also explained some of the major changes and improvements Schriever is expecting in 2015, and concluded his address with one final praise for the men and women of Schriever.
“I could have brought 4,200 people in here and talked about them,” he said. “We couldn’t do our mission, we couldn’t have had the success we had last year nor could we move forward with where we’re going in 2015 without each and every one of them.”