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50 OG enters third SMF rotation


The 50th Operations Group began its third rotation for Space Mission Force 16-3, Oct. 1, 2016, ushering in the newest training classes and space operating crews.

Space Mission Force is a training and force presentation model similar to the rest of the Air Force that prepares space forces to meet the contested, congested challenges of today’s space domain.

SMF is an element of Air Force Space Command’s space enterprise mission. According to Col. Toby Doran, 50th Operations Group commander, the human capital part of that is the SMF.

The 1st Space Operations Squadron implemented SMF May 4, 2015, the entire operations group’s SMF stand up period was Oct. 1, 2015 and the first full rotation for the group occurred Jan. 1, 2016. The SMF and the rotation is a big change for the operators.

“The most significant idea of the rotation is that it allows space operators to have dedicated time to do advanced training,” said Doran.

An operator can expect to be in a combat rotation for four months and then in dwell for four months.

“It was extremely beneficial to have the time to go over advanced training. It gave me extra time to interact with the space community and some of our partners as well,” said Capt. Tyler Merritt, 1 SOPS Delta Flight mission commander.

While mission performance and readiness are important, they are not the only purpose of the SMF implementation.

“I think when it comes to our people, the most significant thing is their quality of life. Right now our folks are working 12-hour shifts. Typically, it is longer than a 12-hour day because they do things before and after their shift. We want to correct this,” said Doran.

According to Doran, the goal is to return to eight-hour shifts by June 2017.

Having the SMF cycles can help provide predictability in the operators lives.

“From what it was before, it has improved because you don’t get called in on your days off, you don’t have to come in for additional duties, you come in, you work your 12 hours and then once you are off that’s it,” said Merritt.

According to Doran, investing in training for 50 OG Airmen shouldn’t mean compromising their quality of life, which is part of the current challenge.

“At the end of the day, I think the rotation is all about balancing the training and quality of life to make our people better. This is a human capital investment. We are investing in our people,” said Doran. 

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