Two California Air National Guard Space Squadrons Support US Space Force > Air National Guard > Article View
Vandenberg Space Force Base, Calif. — “Welcome to Space Country” greets base visitors arriving through Vandenberg’s main gate. Located on California’s central coast, Vandenberg SFB is home to a variety of space operations, both military and civilian, and is known to light up the night sky during a launch.
Two California Air National Guard units also call Space Country “home” while performing tasks that directly support the nation’s space mission and defense. The 148th Space Operations Squadron (SOPS) and 216th Space Control Squadron (SPCS) are both part of the 195th Wing – an Air Guard wing with a unique mix of missions encompassing space, cyberspace, military intelligence and combat communications.
The 148th SOPS performs 24/7 command and control of the constellation of Milstar and Advanced EHF satellites, a mission system that provides the most secure communications networks for the highest levels of the Department of Defense, including the President of the United States and combat commanders around the globe.
“We [the 148th] make sure all equipment with the Milstar is working properly,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Herrera, a radio frequency technician with the 148th SOPS. “For any kind of radio frequency that goes up to the satellites, we make sure the signal is secure and all the equipment on the ground is working properly as a unit.”
They’re an essential part of the mission because if the equipment isn’t working properly, space operators aren’t able to do their jobs and people downstream won’t have secure communications, Herrera said.
“The 216th SPCS is one of five Space Electromagnetic Warfare (Space EW) units that rapidly deploy to nearly anywhere in the world to provide flexible space-based capabilities in a tactical environment to support global and theatrical campaigns,” said the 2nd Lt. Soren Dietrichson, a space operations officer with the 216th SPCS. “For the 216th and space control squadrons in general, our mission is offensive and defensive space control in space. Basically, we ensure that our fighters and geographic fighter commanders have access to space communications and deny our adversaries the same [access].”
More and more, the space becomes more and more contested, Dietrichson said.
The US Space Force was created on December 20, 2019, when the National Defense Authorization Act was signed into law, creating the first new branch of the armed forces in 73 years to meet a need for military service focused solely on the pursuit of space superiority.
“With the technology that our adversaries are building, it’s important for us to have a separate branch to ensure funds are allocated directly to [the] space [mission]”Herrera said. “We see that their technology is getting more and more advanced and that our assets in space need more protection. Having a space force is important to maintaining our dominance in space in the future.
Without the presence of the Guard, there would be a critical void that would exist in the support needed for combatants in this area, Dietrichson said.
“The preponderance of the total force trained for our specialty (approximately 60%) falls under the Air National Guard,” Dietrichson said. “In our ranks are people who bring invaluable and relevant expertise through their work for civilian employers and their graduate education. They all offer unique experiences and perspectives that allow our unit to perform at an exceptionally high level. »
The 148th and 216th still operate as part of the Air National Guard, supporting both state activations and federal missions, and continue to be ready for activation at a moment’s notice.
“The Guard brings value to the space mission with continuity, expertise and reliability,” Dietrichson said. “Knowing that you have people who have been there for many years in a way that you couldn’t have anywhere else in this set of missions, makes the Guard an essential part of what we do in space in general. .”