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News > Feature - 7th SOPS' mission takes new direction
7th SOPS' mission takes new direction

Posted 9/7/2006   Updated 9/12/2006 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Don Branum
50th Space Wing Public Affairs

9/7/2006 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The 7th Space Operations Squadron is out of the Defense Support Program business -- instead, the unit plans to integrate more closely with its active-duty equivalent in 1st SOPS to become a multi-mission satellite operations center.  

Delta booster operations, orbital express close-proximity tactics and techniques, and experimental microsatellites are part of 7th SOPS' near-term plans, with future programs in the next three to six years that include space-based space surveillance and research-and-development programs, said Maj. Bill Fellows, 7th SOPS. 

"We'll have five or six missions going on, but the learning curve will be lower because our 'next-generation' command-and-control ground system will be able to integrate all the missions under a common architecture," he said. 

The squadron activated in 1993. Along with 1st SOPS, 7th SOPS provides total-force support for the Global Positioning System and Midcourse Space Experiment mission, to name a few. 

Until recently, 7th SOPS augmented 1st SOPS' mission. As part of the squadron's change of direction, it will move toward integration rather than just augmentation. The squadron recently gained 11 Active Guard and Reserve (AGR) positions, which allow the squadron to be much more integrated with 1st SOPS, said Lt. Col. Paul Loomis, 7th SOPS commander. 

"We're looking at integrating AGRs into the MMSOC construct for execution of day-to-day operations," Major Fellows said. 

"What 7th SOPS brings to the total-force concept is longevity and continuity," he continued. "Airmen like Colonel Loomis, who has been a member of 7th SOPS for 13 years, have an amazing amount of experience." 

For Air Force Space Command, 7th SOPS and other units within the 310th Space Group here provide a continuity and surge capability critical to the total force concept, Major Fellows said. 

"We're a step between the research-and-development world and the operational world," he explained. "The MMSOC is a key focus of filling that gap. R-and-D doesn't necessarily have an operational perspective; the MMSOC brings that focus. MMSOCs
can take the R-and-D satellites and continue to exploit experimental technology for warfighters after researchers complete their proof of concept." 

Seventh SOPS' Airmen honed their experience during the last unit training assembly  Aug. 5 and 6 when they assumed control of 1st SOPS' operations floor. That experience is extensive -- 7th SOPS was the first Reserves unit with a space mission. Reservists who worked in space-related positions before 7th SOPS were individual mobilization augmentees, said Capt. Travis Barlitt, 7th SOPS. 

The unit also shares a strong sense of camaraderie, Major Fellows said. 

"The camaraderie comes with the longevity of the people working together. You know one another's strengths and weaknesses, and you can build on that," he said. 

Captain Barlitt, who works with 1st SOPS as a contractor for Northrop-Grumman Space Technology, agreed. 

"We come back again in a month, and we do a lot of things as a squadron during the unit training assembly," he said. "I look forward to that homecoming."


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