An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

HomeNewsArticle Display

1 SOPS advances SMF, earns award

The 1st Space Operations Squadron celebrates their reeipt of the General Richard C. Henry award with a group photo at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Wednesday, April 26, 2017. 1 SOPS has a phrase they hold near and dear, especially after winning best space operations squadron of 2016, which is:
 "If you're not first, you're last." (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

The 1st Space Operations Squadron celebrates their reeipt of the General Richard C. Henry award with a group photo at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Wednesday, April 26, 2017. 1 SOPS has a phrase they hold near and dear, especially after winning best space operations squadron of 2016, which is: "If you're not first, you're last." (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

On the afternoon of April 10, all Schriever Air Force Base personnel received an email detailing how one of its very own in-house space squadrons had officially received the 2016 General Richard C. Henry award for best space operations squadron in the entirety of Air Force Space Command.

What exactly had the 1st Space Operations Squadron done to earn this award?

“For the year of 2016, we had some major milestones, and not just for 1 SOPS, but for the entire Department of Defense,” said Senior Master Sgt. Thomas Arns, 1 SOPS superintendent. “We did some really unique missions that were the first of their kind, and it went all the way up to national leadership. We had the Chief of Staff and other leaders come to see what we were doing.”

The missions and actions 1 SOPS had been, and continues to be, conducting were deemed deserving of the Richard C. Henry because they were the first to achieve the official application of Space Mission Force, the shift space operators are meant to take from a support to combat role in space. 

“We’re one of the first ones, out the gate, to pull off the Space Mission Force construct,” said Arns.

While the 1 SOPS mission still, for the most part, maintains its anonymity, it’s important to understand what their missions continue to do as it takes place in conjunction with the SMF shift in training and combat operations.

“Our goal is to keep one leg up on the adversary and keep an eye on what they’re doing. Providing products, intelligence and situational awareness to the community,” said Tech. Sgt. Daniel Kulkoski, 1 SOPS campaign mission planner. “I think it’s been referred to before as kind of like a neighborhood watch, if there’s some trouble in a specific section of the belt, our Joint Functional Component Command Space commander can tell us to go look and we will be as responsive as we have to be.”

With this ever-running mission in-mind, the squadron also added layers of proactive combat operations to their routine.

“We have four crews in combat and four crews doing advanced training, in a dwell cycle. This has changed everything on how we equip, train and man our operation. Meanwhile, we’re doing all these first-ever milestones at the same time. Ultimately it’s been an exciting and busy time,” said Arns.

The excitement felt across the squadron, not only stems from the receipt of the Henry Award, but the mission itself. A mission where its Airmen are able to see the fruits of their labors on a day-to-day basis.

“I’ve been in other places and squadrons where it’s a little slower and you don’t get that instant satisfaction from supporting the mission,” said Staff Sgt. Mary Bentke, Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program mission daily planner. “I can say being here has been a lot of fun.”

Even Airmen new to the squadron expressed their understanding of why 1 SOPS earned the award, feeling the differences the operations are making in terms of the mindset associated with space.  

“As soon as I got all my credentials I was put on the ops floor,” said Staff Sgt. Tyler Copeland, Cyber Transport NCO. “Right away I was seeing how our work directly affects the mission, and how the Air Force’s mind set as far as space and cyber is changing from just being a service to us now having causes and effects.”

With the mission structure being as new and dynamic as it has proven to be, it was little surprise to the squadron they earned the Richard C. Henry.

“We knew it was a special year with all the things we were doing. We had brand new lieutenants and Airmen briefing the Chief of Staff on a mission. Or when we had Col. Burt and wing leadership come in to watch an event happen real-time and be briefed by a Senior Airman,” said Arns. “It’s pretty unique.

“We’re not just a service provider in space anymore,” he continued. “We’re actually doing operations in a contested environment, against thinking and trained adversaries in space. We’re changing the way we think about space, and really 1 SOPS is the avenue of moving that mentality forward.” 

Previous Story
Next Story