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"The Sun Never Sets": Growing the 4 SOPS family

Lt. Col. Sherman Johns, 4th Space Operations Squadron commander; Christopher Meier, Regional Satellite Communication System Center – Europe Extremely High Frequency cell chief; and Chief Master Sgt. Mark Perkins, 4 SOPS superintendent, pose with the brand new Operating Location C, 4 SOPS guidon at RSSC – Europe to welcome the EHF cell, one of the newest units to the 4 SOPS family Oct. 24, 2015, at Patch Barracks, in Stuttgart, Germany. The OL-C EHF cell is one of four OLs along with the 614th Air and Space Communications Squadron Satellite Communications flight that have been realigned to come under 4 SOPS responsibility. (Courtesy Photo)

Lt. Col. Sherman Johns, 4th Space Operations Squadron commander; Christopher Meier, Regional Satellite Communication System Center – Europe Extremely High Frequency cell chief; and Chief Master Sgt. Mark Perkins, 4 SOPS superintendent, pose with the brand new Operating Location C, 4 SOPS guidon at RSSC – Europe to welcome the EHF cell, one of the newest units to the 4 SOPS family Oct. 24, 2015, at Patch Barracks, in Stuttgart, Germany. The OL-C EHF cell is one of four OLs along with the 614th Air and Space Communications Squadron Satellite Communications flight that have been realigned to come under 4 SOPS responsibility. (Courtesy Photo)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- (Editor's Note: "The Sun Never Sets" is a series dedicated to highlighting our Geographically Separated Units' team members, their contributions to the mission and some of the unique aspects of their sometimes remote locations)

Lt. Col. Sherman Johns, 4th Space Operations Squadron commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Mark Perkins, 4 SOPS superintendent, visited Regional Satellite Communication System Support Center - Europe to welcome the Extremely High Frequency cell, one of their newest units, to the 4 SOPS family Oct. 24 - 29, 2015, at Patch Barracks, in Stuttgart, Germany.

As the result of a 14th Air Force organizational change, effective Mar. 31, 2015, the former 614th Air and Space Communications Squadron Satellite Communications flight and four Operating Locations are now assigned to the 4 SOPS Communications Flight.

"It puts most of our eggs in one basket, or under one commander," said Perkins. "So instead of having the responsibilities of EHF, MILSTAR and Advanced Extremely High Frequency cell operations split between the 14th Air Force and 4 SOPS, it gives the users and the warfighters one point of contact. One organization will be accountable and responsible to meet their warfighting needs from our satellite systems."

Johns and Perkins traveled to Germany for a face-to-face hand off of one of their new units' guidon, a symbolic welcome to 4 SOPS.

Each of the OLs are responsible for military satellite communications constellation planning, resource allocation and assured satellite access for users within their supported Combatant Commands.  This mission is accomplished through 24/7 operations with the ability to cooperate with any of the other OLs in the event of an emergency.

The realignment unites protected Satellite System Expertise, communications planning and endurance operations under a single commander to provide comprehensive payload management for nation's protected MILSATCOM constellation.

Each OL is assigned seven Air Force civil service personnel to meet its mission requirements.  These personnel are co-located with other multi-service satellite planners within the four RSSCs.   

Johns explained the transition posed a few challenges for the sudden integration of all the civilian team members who transitioned from the ACOMS.

"There were obviously issues receiving all the folks," said Johns. "Capt. Daniel Baker, 4 SOPS communications flight commander and Steve Baize, 4 SOPS, have done an outstanding job with integrating all of the civilians who have come from the ACOMs now into 4 SOPS. We're still trying to work out bugs but they're doing a good job."

The visit also provided 4 SOPS leadership the opportunity to reaffirm face-to-face support for their team members overseas.

"It was good to go out to the RSSC and visit them and go, 'We're here to take care of you and any issues you might have,'" said Johns.

Johns and Perkins also met with space operators to witness the integration of space and cyber in the Air Operations Center.

"4 SOPS includes a large number of outstanding communicators and as a part of professional development we had an opportunity to go to the Ramstein Air Operations Center to see what space operators do from an operational standpoint for the EUCOM area of responsibility," said Johns. "That was good from a big picture warfighter perspective."

OL-A personnel are located with the RSSC-West at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. OL-B personnel are located with the RSSC-East at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. OL-C personnel are located with the RSSC-Europe at Patch Barracks, Germany.  OL-D personnel are located with the RSSC-Pacific at Wheeler Army Air Field, Hawaii.
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