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Col. Wayne McGee, 21st Operations Group commander (left) and Lt. Col. Edward Allard, 16th SPCS commander, uncase the 16th Space Control Squadron guidon May 16 at the Peterson Museum. (U.S. Air Force photo by Corey Dahl)
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New squadron activates at Peterson

Posted 5/21/2007   Updated 5/22/2007 Email story   Print story


by Corey Dahl
21st Space Wing Public Affairs

5/21/2007 - PETERSON AFB, Colo.  -- The 16th Space Control Squadron officially activated May 16, adding a unique defensive counter-space unit to Peterson.

The new squadron, which has been preparing for its stand up for almost two years, will be in charge of the Rapid Attack Identification Detection Reporting System, or RAIDRS. In use since July 2005, RAIDRS detects and locates sources of satellite interference and then tries to solve the problem.

Members of the 16th SPCS will monitor thousands of warfighter satellite communication links and detect any jamming attempts, protecting the military "high ground." The jamming signal can be anyone from a civilian or military organization that accidentally puts up an interfering signal, to an adversary trying to disrupt military communication.

The RAIDRS team then uses a system to pinpoint the signal's location and then relays that information to the appropriate channels so that action can be taken.

RAIDRS is currently organized as a floating central operating location, which communicates with six fixed ground stations and three deployable ground segments. By 2011, though, plans call for the central operating location to move to Peterson, where members of the 16th SPCS will be able to remotely operate the fixed and deployable ground segments.

"Eventually, everything will be here," said Lt. Col. Edward Allard, commander of the 16th SPCS. "But we've still got some major challenges ahead."

One of the 16th SPCS' biggest problems is lack of physical space. Operating out of a small building for the last few months, the 18-member unit is already running out of room. And the problem will only get worse as the unit acquires more equipment and more people.

"We'll have a total staff of 123 once we're fully operational, and right now, I have no idea where to put them," Col. Allard said. "You know that quote from 'Field of Dreams,' 'If you build it, they will come'? In this case, we've come without any buildings. It's just the opposite."

Help with another challenge - finding people to man the mission - has come from the 18th Reserve Auxiliary Unit. Made up of both traditional and active-grade Reservists, the unit will stand up in support of the 16th SPCS Nov. 1, eventually contributing about 60 percent of the manpower needed for RAIDRS.

Lt. Col. Michael Assid, the reserve unit's commander, said the active duty members and Reservists will end up blending together though, so eventually, it will be tough to tell who's from what unit.

"When you deploy with our teams, you won't know who's Reserve and who's active duty," he said. "Unless someone's wearing a special patch or something, we'll all just be part of RAIDRS."

Members from both the 18th RAU and the 16th SPCS have already gotten a chance to test Colonel Assid's theory. Both units have been sending members out to the RAIDRS central operating location, currently located in southwest Asia, since the beginning of the year.

Maj. Carolyn Wood, a member of the 16th SPCS, just returned from a 124 day deployment to the RAIDRS station and said she's even more excited about the mission after seeing it in action.

"It was great to be out there doing these things," she said. "It's nice to know you have a direct impact on the (Global War on Terrorism) and all the missions going on."

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