By Tech. Sgt. Julius Delos Reyes
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
Airman Mohammed Ahsan just arrived at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, a little more than a month ago and already, he is a part of the Air Force Space Command and Air Force history.
Ahsan is one of the 53 students attending the first-ever Space Training Transformation class, which began with a ceremony and orientation April 11, 2016.
“I am really proud knowing I am a part of this,” Ahsan said. “I think it’s a really exciting concept. I am also really glad about finally going into my class and learning my mission.”
As part of the construct, the responsibility for 50th Space Wing weapon system qualification training transferred from Air Education and Training Command to Air Force Space Command, with the 50th Operations Support Squadron leading the effort.
Previously, space operators attended technical school and initial qualification training at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California with subsequent mission qualification training at their gaining wing. Both qualification trainings are now combined so students receive all weapon system training at Schriever.
“This is a historic day for us. This is a big deal not just for you but for us as well,” said Lt. Col. Timothy Purcell, 50 OSS commander, when he addressed the students during the ceremony.
Col. Anthony Mastalir, 50 SW vice commander, echoed the sentiment. He highlighted the amount of effort invested in this endeavor by the numbers — more than 2,000 new training products, 83 individuals, 170,000 man-hours, eight new courses for five different weapon systems, including GPS, Advanced Extremely High Frequency, Milstar, Wideband Global SATCOM and Defense Satellite Communication System.
“This is a monumental change in terms of how we do initial and mission qualification training as well as how we prepare our personnel,” said Mastalir.
He added, “This course is not designed, and the training you will receive subsequent to this, is not designed to make you a space operator. It is designed to make you a (warfighting-focused ops team).”
As one of the instructors who will prepare forces of the future, 1st Lt. Odale Charles was excited to begin her class. She is a 50 OSS instructor for Milstar and Advanced Extremely High Frequency systems.
“I think it is unique to be part of this big transition. This is part of Gen. John E. Hyten’s mission and vision for the Air Force. I am proud to be a part of it,” Charles said.
The new training concept allows AFSPC to quickly adapt its training courses in order to contend with a dynamic and rapidly evolving space environment. Additionally, the 50 OSS Development Flight will continuously conduct formal and informal feedback to ensure more robust and current course.
“This is a very different training than what (previous space operators) have gotten a few years ago. It’s a different focus,” Purcell explained. “We want to start building a foundation with you to understand the adversaries’ threats. We are going to challenge you and we are going to test you.”
Depending on the weapon systems, students are expected to graduate between June and September. Following a 50th Operations Group Standards and Evaluation assessment, the graduates will be transferred to their corresponding space operations squadrons.