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Guam tracking station: Celebrating 52 years of excellence

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(Courtesy photo)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

It has been an absolute honor to lead at Detachment 2, 21st Space Operations Squadron Guam Tracking Station. This assignment provided a unique leadership opportunity my family and I will never forget as the detachment celebrates 52 years of excellence. GTS is the farthest footprint in the Air Force Space Command for the Pacific Ocean, and operational antennas on site provide assured access to space as well as real-time command and control for launch and operation of  more than 175 Department of  Defense, national, allied and civilian satellites as part the Air Force Satellite Control Network.   

What makes GTS special is its rich heritage with host installation Andersen Air Force Base. GTS resides on land previously used for then-named North Field’s main runway constructed in 1945 during World War II for the 314th Bomb Wing.  

Twenty years later on June 18 1965, ARC LIGHT One, the first B-52 bombing mission over Vietnam, began.

During this time, Andersen AFB became synonymous with the B-52 in Air Force history. GTS was making space history as a new tenant unit Sept. 17, 1965.  Since then, GTS has provided continuous operations 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.   

GTS began as an Air Force Satellite Control Facility, Operating Location Number 10, and was AFSPC’s first attempt to provide a complete command tracking and telemetry capability in a mobile facility as part of Project CORONA. This effort paved the way for the AFSCN to thrive and expand.   Project CORONA was the first program to use a satellite to take photographs from space over the former Soviet Union, dropping film canisters between Hawaii and Guam. The program lasted into the late 1960s  and was declassified in 1995.

Recently, in 2010, GTS was re-designated 21st SOPS, Detachment 2, ending 31 years as Detachment 5.

Today, GTS remains rigorously space mission-driven within a highly contested joint region environment.  GTS has a strategic site picture to space and is ready to meet any future 50th Space Wing mission for expanding mission priorities for early warning, intelligence, communication, weather and navigation. A third side antenna activation to support the network by the end of calendar year 2018 is planned to address AFSCN risks. GTS' proud 52 year heritage, combined with the outstanding civilian and military workforce, is why I am honored to command this remote tracking station.

Many operators and technicians have supported this mission throughout the years and some with more than 30 years on site. They are, in my perspective, why our people are our most precious asset. 

As we prepare to meet future adversaries and incorporate new space capabilities for the next 50 years, I am proud to continue carrying the torch of space heritage – GTS is where "America's space ops day begins."