Reservists pilot multi-billion dollar spacecraft solo for first time in decade
By Airman Jacob Deatherage, 460th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 11, 2017
BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE,Colo. -- For the first time in over 14 years, the 8th Space Warning Squadron and their sister squadron Detachment 1, 8th Space Warning Squadron provided a full reservist crew to man the Space-Based Missile Warning System, typically operated by 2nd SWS, Jan. 7, 2017, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo.
As the associate unit to 2nd SWS, 8th SWS demonstrated their capability to execute the SBIRS mission of missile warning, battlespace awareness, technical intelligence and missile defense, in a fully proficient manner.
The historic day for the reserve unit signifies their potential to provide mission-ready Airmen in the time of need, or during a shortage of manpower, even at a moment’s notice; all while ensuring commanders of their technical skills.
“Our mission is to provide a ready, reliable and scalable citizen Airmen force with expertise and continuity supporting integrated space-based infrared missions,” stated Lt. Col. Keith Jansa, 8 SWS commander.
As the squadron commander, Jansa received an orchestrated list of names, schedules, conflicts, and concerns to overcome from the Airmen within the 8th SWS to help strategize and execute the event.
“We have Airmen that are full-time college students, and or employees in the private sector, and still come in to drill on the weekends,” stated Jansa. “The maturity and experience that we bring is second-to-none.”
The majority of 8th SWS’ work force is comprised of traditional reservists, who work “one weekend a month and two weeks a year,” while the remaining Airmen work on full-time orders either in 8th SWS or with the 460th Operations Group, in support of the base’s day-to-day mission. The 8th SWS Total Force Airmen contribute to the fight by serving hand-in-hand with their active-duty counterparts.
Having a full-reservist crew is important because it showcases the strength of the Reserve and their full capability when needed. Having the support and backing from our active-duty counterparts is also very important, stated Jansa.
“We maintain mission readiness and are ready to support the mission when necessary,” stated Staff Sgt. Kayla Meeks, 8th SWS mission management operator. “Having ready and proficient Airmen is beneficial for contingencies and for days like today when people who work the mission every day are able to spend the additional time either resting or with their families.”
Through prosperity, 8th SWS has demonstrated the meaning of their mission statement which states, “Provide a ready, reliable, and scalable Citizen Airman force with expertise and continuity supporting integrated space based infrared missions.”
“The 8th SWS remains the foundation for SBIRS operational excellence and win future challenges through innovation and Total Force integration,” said Jansa. “These Airmen make me proud every day and I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity to lead such a great organization.”