SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
Space Delta 8 Standardization and Evaluation unit ensures the Military Satellite Communications system and Navigation Warfare capabilities remain superior in space by enforcing standards while providing expert evaluations to the 2nd and 4th Space Operations Squadrons.
Upon graduating from Space Delta 8 Operations Support Squadron training, Airmen undergo initial evaluation to determine if they’re ready to serve on their respective operations floor.
During the initial evaluation, an evaluator will present an operator with an inject, or scenario, in which an anomaly occurs. From there, the evaluator will observe to see how the operator navigates the situation.
“We remain neutral as to not give them indications on whether they are doing something right or wrong, because we want to see how they are likely to react in a real-world scenario,” said Capt. Jonathan Campbell, Space Delta 8 OGV Standardization branch chief.
The evaluator takes detailed notes and terminates the evaluation with a debrief, in which the operator will complete a detailed timeline of events and provide examples of actions they could have executed differently.
The Space Delta 8 OGV evaluator then delivers all of their findings to an “error determination,” which is essentially a “sit-down” with fellow evaluators in the Space Delta 8 OGV. They discuss what they witnessed during the evaluation and deliberate potential errors.
“We get validation from the other evaluators to determine if what we saw was actually an error,” Campbell said. “It also ensures we’re fairly and consistently applying standards. Then from the error determination, we come out with our list of errors and the overall proficiency rating for the operator.”
Operators can receive one of three qualifications: Q1, Q2 or Q3. Q1 is the highest rating and means the operator doesn’t require additional training. Q2 means that some issues were noted and that they may need some additional training before they’re ready to serve on the ops floor.
Q3 is unsatisfactory and identifies multiple areas the operator wasn’t proficient in. Upon earning this rating, the operator receives additional training in which they go over what they did wrong and are retaught those specific lessons.
If they earn a Q3, they are given time to relearn the material so they can be reevaluated to see if learning took place. Typically, this process only takes one to two days before the operator can be evaluated again and certified to operate on the ops floor.
After their initial evaluation, the Space Delta 8 OGV conducts proficiency evaluations for each operator every 18 months to ensure they remain knowledgeable and to validate their continuation training.
Furthermore, the results of all evaluations are provided to the trainers. If the Space Delta 8 OGV notices trends in errors, that information is used to better prepare the operators in the future.
“It’s supposed to be a closed-loop system, where the operational squadron, like the 2nd or 4th SOPS, tells Space Delta 8 OSS and OGV what they want operators to be proficient in,” Campbell said. “The Space Delta 8 OSS provides the desired training to that end, then we validate the training and assist in certifying the operator. We also provide feedback to Space Delta 8 OSS and the operational squadrons. The end goal is to ensure operators are proficient and know how to respond correctly to anomalies once they’re on the operations floor.”
The Space Delta 8 OGV is split into two sections: the Evaluation Branch and the Standardization Branch. Aside from conducting evaluations, the Space Delta 8 OGV also ensures the squadrons correctly implement guidance from the Delta, Garrison and higher Space Force level. They ensure the operational squadrons have the guidance they need and answer any lingering questions.
Another way squadrons ensure they’re following standards is through self-assessment. They use the Management Internal Control Toolset, which is a self-assessment tool that assigns units checklists with questions based on applicable guidance and responsibilities they’re charged with.
“If the guidance specifies a unit needs to do training this often or evaluations this often, MICT may have a question to assess compliance for these timelines,” Campbell said. “The unit is responsible for providing proof or justification they are in in accordance with the guidance.
The Space Delta 8 OGV receives the MICT program reports from both squadrons and compiles the information into a report for Col. Matthew Holston, Space Delta 8 commander, so he has insight into the percentage of tasks the squadrons are completing in a timely manner.
“The Space Delta 8 OGV is Colonel Holston’s neutral party for going into the units and reporting back to him, in an unbiased way, how the unit is performing,” said Capt. Sean Williams, Space Delta 8 OGV Evaluations branch chief.
Every evaluator is also a trained instructor who was hand-selected by a squadron commander to be an evaluator. A squadron commander will put together nomination packages for top performers they think will make good evaluators, and those packages are then looked over in a training review board for approval to undergo evaluator training.
Campbell said the ideal path for an evaluator is to be an “excellent operator” on the operations floor, become an “excellent instructor” in the OSS and finally serve as an evaluator.
“It doesn’t always play out that way for everyone, though,” Campbell said. “At times, exceptional operators are moved directly from the squadron to the Space Delta 8 OGV. But the ideal path is: excellent operators go teach, excellent teachers go evaluate.”