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All hands on deck: Implementation of Space Mission Force is underway

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- "Space Mission Force postures us for the future,” said Troy Endicott, 21st Operations Group commander. “Its focus on threat-based advanced training will put us on a sure-footing to meet the challenges of conflict that might extend to space."

This implementation applies to all Air Force Space Command units and the entire Space Mission Enterprise, including every operator, mission support professional, intelligence professional, headquarters staff member and acquisition professional supporting Air Force space operations.

Airmen spanning multiple Air Force Specialty Codes and geographically separated units, who support space operations, already began to see the effects of SMF implementation while other units are still waiting to carry out their new roles. Regardless of time of implementation, all units are heavily relying on the support of their respective wing to smoothly transition into their new SMF duties.

Being that SMF is a brand new concept and requires a fully extensive set of rules with an equally comprehensive rollout plan, 21st Operations Group Standardization and Evaluation is carefully eyeing how other units at sister wings handle the transition. Schriever Air Force Base is in their third SMF rotation and are prime candidates to learn from.

“We took some of the lessons learned from visiting Schriever AFB and watching some of their processes,” said Capt. Cuyler Gembol, 21st OGV deputy chief. “The 21st OGV took what they learned and applied them to a conference where SMF regulations were being crafted for the units of the 21st Space Wing.”

With this new implementation and cultural shift, Air Force Instructions and unit regulations are still being drafted and refined. Because it’s difficult to write regulations or govern with AFIs when there is no foundation to work on, the 21st OGV is currently awaiting feedback and tangible results from the first trial period completion of the Space Mission Task Force from the 7th Space Warning Squadron at Beale AFB, California.

“Right now we don’t have any AFIs published, even at the major command level, for what SMF looks like or what we are going to do,” said Gembol. “The first piece of the puzzle are these trial periods and applying what we have learned at Schriever AFB. As of Oct. 1, 7th SWS started applying these concepts and we expect our first tangible results and feedback for what is working and what isn’t working in November.”

The 4th Space Control Squadron here at Peterson AFB is in an active SMTF cycle while the 16th SPCS and a majority of the rest of the 21st SW’s ground-based radar systems are scheduled to begin their official SMTF cycles at the turn of the fiscal year in 2017.

“There is a hard deadline for implementation for the remaining 21st SW units,” said Gembol. “The only unit to fully implement is 4th SPCS and the hardline for everybody else is Sept. 30, 2017. When we all wake up on Oct. 1, 2017, we will be fully implemented into SMF.”

While SMF may directly involve any and all Airmen involved in the space operations field, the rest of the 21st SW may feel the effects of this new cultural shift. Leadership from Air Force Space Command down to 21st OG understand bumps in the road may occur in this transition, but request that installations support the shift and any hiccups which may occur. This will allow for space operators to take better care of the mission and ultimately the United States.

“It will take some awkward moments,” said Gembol. “I see it happening — a space operator will inevitably have a medical emergency three days before they enter their SMTF cycle or their Common Access Card zeroizes. You can’t predict this stuff and these are real things that happen. Airmen need to be ready to enter their SMTF cycle because they are truly deployed in place. Total base support to assist these Airmen during these moments is required because we cannot take SMTF cycles lightly.”

From the top down, it’s all hands on deck. Some Airmen may not directly contribute to SMF, but some of Team Pete is directly contributing the progress of the SMF mission by lending skills, resources and time to help those who will be driving forward the 21st SW mission of executing global capabilities to defend the homeland and secure space for our nation and allies.

Peterson SFB Schriever SFBCheyenne Mountain SFSThule AB New Boston SFS Kaena Point SFS Maui