SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.- --
Entering a new rotational period, the 50th Operations Group marked a successful year and the beginning of Space Mission Force 17-2 Feb.1.
“It’s been a tremendous period of growth,” said 1st Lt. Nathaniel Lee, 50 OG junior executive officer, and SMF facilitator. “If you look from a year ago to now, the difference in the units in terms of how they train and how they execute the mission has advanced.”
SMF is a training and force presentation model that prepares space forces to meet the contested and congested challenges of today’s space domain by providing an advanced training period for space Airmen to hone their skills.
The SMF construct was implemented at Schriever Feb. 1, 2016 and has Airmen rotating from dwell periods, where they conduct mission operations, to periods dedicated fully to advanced training, with facilitators such as Lee aiding the process.
The previous rotation’s training varied from class instructions to field work, such as the combat training 3rd Space Operations Squadron Airmen conducted with 13th Air Operations Support Squadron and the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado.
“That (combat training) was the first time we ever did something like that and it really framed the impact of what we do,” said Capt. Zachary Ritter, 3 SOPS SMF flight commander in training. “We are continuing to explore areas where we can effect our environment and space operations.”
While the SMF framework has remained mostly consistent, the upcoming 3rd and 4th Space Operations Squadrons merger brought change during rotation 17-1. Airmen from both squadrons worked together conducting operations in a preparatory effort to spot any future problems early on.
“Anytime you change the way you do operations there is going to be problems you don’t anticipate,” said Lee. “This is an effort to help with the process in anticipation of the collaboration.”
Col. Toby Doran, 50 OG commander, addressed the merger and other changes during a commander’s call to highlight the new rotation Jan. 27. A major focus for the event was reducing shift times.
Starting June 1. , 50 OG Airmen and all Space Operations Squadrons aside from 3 and 4 SOPS will have Airmen transition to eight-hour shifts. The 3 and 4 SOPS transition began Wednesday due to increased automation in their work environments.
“Most of you have heard we will be working eight hour shifts,” said Doran. “You will be here for longer than an eight hour workday, to be clear. However, what we (space operations commanders) don’t want is Airmen to work 14-hour days on 12-hour shifts. We want them to be working at a reasonable schedule, at reasonable times, for their benefit.”
For 17-2, Lee and other SMF Airmen hope to successfully incorporate these new changes and continue building upon its benefits.
“The concept used to be that if you are on crew, you get their training on the job,” said Lee. “Now Space Mission Force enables Airmen to dedicate crew work and then receive much more training for a time. The advanced training is fundamental to how we do operations.”