By 1st Lt. Scarlett Rodriguez
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Hawaii, while popularly known as a booming tourist spot, is unbeknownst to many as a hotspot of space support in more ways than one.
One of those ways is through an arm of not only the 50th Operations Group, but the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, Army Strategic Command.
The Regional Satellite Support Center Pacific maintains 24/7 operations to ensure users on the ground, at sea or in the air are getting satellite communications support required from wideband, narrow band, commercial band and protected band satellite systems.
The 4th Space Operations Squadron supports RSSC-PAC as a force provider with Operating Location Delta personnel and equipment, allowing OL-D to provide the warfighter protected band SATCOM resources through the Milstar and Advanced Extra High Frequency systems, which is critical to reaching sea and land based terminals.
“The RSSC’s are where the rubber hits the road for providing SATCOM capabilities to the warfighter,” said Steve Baize, payload management deputy director for the 4th SOPS. “They organize efficient use of satellite resources and provide a single point of contact for satellite communication expertise. The RSSCs are located close to support the combatant commands and serve as the local subject matter expert for Milstar, and Advanced EHF.”
Located at Wheeler Army Air Field, Hawaii, about 30 minutes from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, the site is small in stature, but large in responsibility.
“A lot of people think we operate on this large ops floor, so when I tell them I only have one protected SATCOM planner per shift they’re surprised,” said Jeffery Kershner, protected cell chief for OL-D.
Six personnel currently man OL-D and execute the mission. Manpower is a big concern, but the dedicated personnel ensure the warfighter has the satellite resources to communicate and accomplish the mission.
Despite the small numbers, Kershner stressed the support from 4th SOPS, and other RSSC’s, has enabled the mission to be met with zero-failure.
“If we ever have any issues on our end, we know we can reach out to another RSSC to help with satellite beam moves, network activations or resource monitoring review,” he said.
One of the valuable tools the 4th SOPS provides is the Communications Asset Monitoring, or CAM, data.
“CAM data is sent from the Satellite Summary Telemetry network to the Command and Control SATCOM terminal connected to 4th SOPS operations floor,” Baize said. “The CAM data is critical to the RSSC’s because it is the Resource Monitoring data that is used to see what is happening on the satellite payloads.”
Baize went on to explain how the CAM data essentially enables the insight to what networks are active and when terminals logged on or off the satellites. The CAM data is valuable tool used to troubleshoot and correct why a satellite terminal cannot communicate through the satellite. Satellite bandwidth is in high demand and there never seems to be enough.
Another use of the CAM data is to monitor the satellite payload to ensure only authorized users are active on the satellite. The RSSCs use the CAM data to identify unauthorized use or misconfigured networks. If they identify a problem they coordinate deactivation or correct network configuration to ensure efficient use of the critical SATCOM system.
Advances in operations, like the utilization of the CAM data, make OL-D’s operations more efficient, increasing their ability to stay ahead of rising demands in the fight.
“The workload of just planning and allocating satellite resources since manpower authorizations were originally established at the OLs have increased approximately five to six times without an increase in manning,” Baize said.
The implementation of the Advanced EHF satellites are an additional source of relief and efficiency to the OL.
“AEHF has provided vastly improved protected capabilities to the warfighter,” Kershner said. “Before, you had only eight Medium Data Rate beams [to provide support] and that was it. Now there are almost four times the beams to mitigate coverage gaps in support.”
The system’s robust capability is critical as the center is a major player in operations and exercises, such as: RIM of the Pacific 2018, INDO-PACOM Joint SATCOM Architecture Working Group and multiple search and rescue efforts, like the osprey crash on the USS Green Bay in August 2017.
“We provide support to the Joint Staff, STRATCOM, and CCMD’s. That is our mission, meeting the day-to-day mission requirements of the protected community,” Kershner said. “It gives me a huge sense of accomplishment to see these ships roll up and know we had a hand in their mission.”