50th SW plays critical role in Zarqawi air strike
By Staff Sgt. Don Branum, 50th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 12, 2006
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
The 50th Space Wing here provided critical space-based combat effects in support of the air strike June 8 that killed the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq.
F-16 Falcon pilots dropped two 500-pound bombs—a laser-guided GBU-12 and a Global Positioning System-aided GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM—on a safehouse northeast of Baquba, Iraq, killing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
“Every hour of every day, we are there to maximize the capabilities space provides to the warfighter,” said Col. Cal Hutto, 50th SW Commander.
The combat capabilities delivered from Schriever permeate every aspect of military operations, from secure satellite communications to navigation and timing, Colonel Hutto said.
The Defense Satellite Communications System and Milstar constellations, supported by 3rd and 4th Space Operations Squadrons, provide communications capability that is crucial to military operations. Additionally, the Air Force Satellite Control Network, operated by 50th SW units at eight locations around the world, allows Department of Defense satellite operators, including those in the 50th SW, to send commands to and support data collection from satellites at any time.
Delivering the precision to carry out air strikes in the AOR is part of the everyday job for 2nd SOPS crews, said Lt. Col. Harold Martin, 2nd SOPS director of operations.
“When a JDAM drops anywhere in the world, we’re there to support it,” Colonel Martin said. “We don’t drop the bomb, but we help guide it to its target. Our folks are always focused on their mission of providing the most accurate navigation and timing capability possible.”
“For time-sensitive targeting, the GPS signal has got to be there, and warfighters have to be able to count on it,” Colonel Hutto added.
The accuracy of GPS’ navigation and timing signals is a direct measure of the squadron’s commitment to excellence in all they do, said Capt. Matthew Brandt, 2nd SOPS Operations flight commander.
“When our 18- to 19-year-old Airmen and our 21- to 22-year-old lieutenants find out that what they do helps keep our country free and strong—when I can tell my troops, that’s what we do every day ... that’s a kind of job fulfillment you can’t get in most civilian jobs,” Captain Brandt said.
Colonel Hutto emphasized that, while the 50th SW had a hand in the operation, many other organizations and units across all service coalition partners were involved.