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Schriever bids squadron farewell; welcomes 4 SOPS commander

3rd Space Operations Squadron and 4th Space Operations Squadron Airmen attend the 3 SOPS inactivation and 4 SOPS change of command ceremony at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Tuesday, June 13, 2017. Combining the two squadrons aligned the wing’s military satellite communications under one unified entity. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Arielle Vasquez)

3rd Space Operations Squadron and 4th Space Operations Squadron Airmen attend the 3 SOPS inactivation and 4 SOPS change of command ceremony at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Tuesday, June 13, 2017. Combining the two squadrons aligned the wing’s military satellite communications under one unified entity. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Arielle Vasquez)

50th Operations Group members furl the 3rd Space Operations Squadron guidon during the 3 SOPS inactivation ceremony at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Tuesday, June 13, 2017. Combining the two squadrons aligned the wing’s military satellite communications under one unified entity. (U.S. Air Force photo/Dennis Rogers)

50th Operations Group members furl the 3rd Space Operations Squadron guidon during the 3 SOPS inactivation ceremony at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Tuesday, June 13, 2017. Combining the two squadrons aligned the wing’s military satellite communications under one unified entity. (U.S. Air Force photo/Dennis Rogers)

Col. Toby Doran, 50th Operations Group commander, presents the guidon to Lt. Col. Armon Lansing, 4th Space Operations Squadron incoming commander, during the 4 SOPS change of command ceremony at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Tuesday, June 13, 2017. Lansing assumed command from Lt. Col. Sherman Johns who is transitioning to the National Space Defense Center. (U.S. Air Force photo/Dennis Rogers)

Col. Toby Doran, 50th Operations Group commander, presents the guidon to Lt. Col. Armon Lansing, 4th Space Operations Squadron incoming commander, during the 4 SOPS change of command ceremony at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Tuesday, June 13, 2017. Lansing assumed command from Lt. Col. Sherman Johns who is transitioning to the National Space Defense Center. (U.S. Air Force photo/Dennis Rogers)

3rd Space Operations Squadron and 4th Space Operations Squadron Airmen merge in formations during the 3 SOPS inactivation and 4 SOPS change of command ceremony at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Tuesday, June 13, 2017. At the start of the ceremony, the two squadrons stood separately, then merged into a single formation to symbolize the unification of two missions committed to drive the combined squadron to greater heights. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Arielle Vasquez)

3rd Space Operations Squadron and 4th Space Operations Squadron Airmen merge in formations during the 3 SOPS inactivation and 4 SOPS change of command ceremony at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Tuesday, June 13, 2017. At the start of the ceremony, the two squadrons stood separately, then merged into a single formation to symbolize the unification of two missions committed to drive the combined squadron to greater heights. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Arielle Vasquez)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – --

The 3rd Space Operations Squadron inactivated then merged its mission with the 4th Space Operations Squadron during an inactivation and a change of command ceremony at the 50th Space Wing headquarters building Tuesday, June 13.

Lt. Col. Armon Lansing assumed command of 4 SOPS from Lt. Col. Sherman Johns.

At the start of the ceremony, the two squadrons stood separately, then merged into a single formation to symbolize the unification of two missions committed to drive the new squadron to greater heights.

“Lt. Col. Michael Todd, my predecessor, initiated discussion regarding the merger,” said Lt. Col. Joshua Brooks, former 3 SOPS commander. “He wanted to see what we could experiment with to improve the mission.”

Leadership wanted to use ground system automation capabilities to command and control the Wideband Global SATCOM satellites and the Defense Satellite Communications System III constellations. This experiment reduced a six-person crew to one person on the operations floor. In January, this became a reality and enabled 3 SOPS crews to integrate with 4 SOPS to have all Air Force military satellite communications under one unified squadron.

“It is always difficult for any squadron to inactivate and say goodbye to the family and culture that created that innovation; it is bittersweet,” Brooks said. "4 SOPS has always been our sister squadron and we’ve always had a good- natured rivalry between the squadron. I can say without a doubt though, most people are excited and looking forward to the opportunities of what 4 SOPS will be able to do.”

Several Airmen echoed that sentiment, because while preparation of the merge proved to be a challenge at times, the squadrons made every effort to unite and looked forward to working together.

“Every unit has its own identity and culture,” said Master Sgt. Carl White, former 3 SOPS superintendent. “Ours is distinctly different than our sister squadron, but from the lowest to highest ranking Airman, they have shown nothing but a positive attitude during this process. Even those who are out of their element have stepped up. It’s been an honor and privilege to be part of the 3 SOPS legacy and also extremely humbling to work with such great men and women.”

Brooks said the squadrons were given a very difficult task of taking an innovative idea of merging the squadrons and making it a reality.

“I am extremely proud of the men and women in this squadron,” Brooks said. “From day one, they all pulled together to ensure we achieved results and provided the best capabilities. Pride is my number one feeling. We know we successfully completed our mission and I think we all look forward to a time when 3 SOPS is reactivated with a new mission.”

Once the official merger was complete during the ceremony, Lansing expressed his gratitude and enthusiasm to lead the reorganized squadron.

“It is a pleasure to return to the 50th Space Wing and be a part of this special day,” Lansing said. “We pause to honor the legacy of the two squadrons and welcome the new opportunities of our combined team under the 4 SOPS banner. As I receive this guidon, I look forward to carrying on the tradition and leading this squadron to the next place on our journey. I can already say I am proud of this squadron and honored to be your commander.”

As the two squadrons integrated, 4 SOPS became one of the largest space operation squadrons in the U.S. Air Force.