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June 2003

Official Magazine of the Air Force Reserve

Space units excel behind the scenes

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, thousands of Air Force reservists helped drop bombs on the enemy, deliver supplies and fuel to coalition forces, and rescue stranded or besieged troops on the ground.During Operation Iraqi Freedom, reservists used Global Positioning System satellites, like this one, to direct precision targeting over Iraq. (Courtesy Lockheed Martin Space Systems)

Many of these reservists worked behind the scenes, including several hundred Air Force Reserve Command war-fighters who used equipment well above the clouds to provide precision targeting, early missile detection and accurate weather reporting.

“We still have about 50 mobilized reservists, as well as a hundred full-time active Guard and Reserve members,” said Col. Roscoe L.O. Griffin, commander of AFRC’s 310th Space Group at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. “We also had several of our traditional reservists volunteer to come in on man-days to support the war effort.”

Most of the group’s units are based at Schriever, including the 19th Space Operations Squadron, which used Global Positioning System satellites to direct precision targeting over Iraq.

The constellation of GPS satellites provides navigation data to military and civilian users all over the world. GPS furnishes 24-hour navigation services, including accurate three-dimensional location information (latitude, longitude and altitude); velocity and precise time; a worldwide common grid that is easily converted to any local grid; and passive all-weather operations.

Members of the group’s 6th SOPS at Schriever used Defense Meteorological Satellite Program satellites to collect critical weather data to aid military operations.

The DMSP has been gathering weather data for U.S. military operations for more than two decades. At all times, two satellites are in polar orbits at about 458 nautical miles (nominal). The primary weather sensor on DMSP is the Operational Linescan System, which provides continuous visual and infrared imagery of cloud cover over a swath 1,600 nautical miles wide. Additional satellite sensors measure atmospheric vertical profiles of moisture and temperature.

The group’s 7th SOPS at Schriever and its 8th Space Warning Squadron at Buckley AFB, Colo., provided tactical missile warning support during the war.

The 7th SOPS flies Defense Support Program satellites. Rotating in 22,000 mile-plus geosynchronous orbits, DSP satellites use an infrared sensor to detect heat from missile and booster plumes against the earth’s background. These satellites help protect the United States and its allies by detecting missile launches, space launches and nuclear detonations.

The 8th SWS operates the Space-based Infrared System, the follow-on to the current space-based warning architecture. Although it currently uses only the geosynchronous DSP satellites to perform the warning mission, ultimately a constellation of high- and low-orbit SBIRS satellites will provide global and theater early warning to war-fighters.

“Our 14th Test Squadron and aggressor unit (both at Schriever) performed numerous classified OIF activities in addition to our 9th Space Operations Squadron (at Vandenberg AFB, Calif.) assisting the active duty with command and control of all space assets,” Griffin said. “As important as any of our missions, our 310th Security Forces Squadron provided the essential duty of base security.”

(AFRC News Services)


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