An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News : Article View
NEWS | May 12, 2021

Air Guard unit provides essential satellite communications

By Lt. Col. Mae-Li Allison, Combined Force Space Component Command Public Affairs

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – A small Air National Guard squadron perched on a scrub oak-covered hilltop on the central coast of California makes a big contribution to the Combined Force Space Component Command’s (CFSCC) mission to provide space capabilities to the joint warfighter and allied partners.

For nearly 21 years, the 148th Space Operations Squadron (SOPS) has been a caretaker of the Air Force’s protected Military Satellite Communications (MILSATCOM) system, providing 24-hour monitoring and support of the satellites seven days a week.

“Our Air National Guard teammates at the 148th SOPS are well-trained space operators who give our warfighters an essential tool —dependable, secure communications,” said Maj. Gen. DeAnna Burt, CFSCC commander. “We’re very appreciative of their dedication to this important mission.”

The 148th SOPS is one of two squadrons that oversee the MILSATCOM system.

“We share the mission and satellite command and control responsibilities with the 4th Space Operations Squadron, which is based out of Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado,” said Lt. Col. Sahira DeMarco, the 148th SOPS director of operations. “During our normal operations, we manage three of the 10 MILSATCOM satellites and can take on responsibility for all of them when needed.”

The specific MILSATCOM systems the 4th and 148th SOPS manage and operate are the Military Strategic & Tactical Relay (Milstar) satellites and the newer Advanced Extreme High Frequency (AEHF) satellites. The primary customers for secure satellite communications are combatant commands and the National Command Authority, including the president and the defense secretary.

“A good way to think of us here at Vandenberg is as an extension of the 4th SOPS operations floor,” said Maj. Ruben Carrillo, 148th SOPS chief of operations training. “We take direction from the mission commander there at Schriever, and requests for secure space communications capabilities and effects come through U.S. Space Command through the CFSCC.”

More than 50 Air National Guard personnel are part of the squadron, which has been particularly busy the past couple of years supporting its state mission.

“It is rewarding to accomplish this federal mission day-in and day-out while still maintaining a ready and trained force to support the state emergency response mission,” said Carrillo, who was an active-duty enlisted civil engineer before joining the Air National Guard. “We’ve been very busy in recent years with wildfire support, responding to civil unrest, working in food banks and assisting in COVID vaccine clinics.”

The 148th SOPS is one of three California National Guard space squadrons. The California National Guard is only one of eight National Guard organizations (in seven states and one U.S. territory) that directly contribute to the space mission.

“The National Guard has more than 25 years of experience operating in the space domain,” said Lt. Col. Jeremiah Hitchner, National Guard advisor to the CFSCC commander. “There is no doubt that units like the 148th SOPS are essential to daily space operations and will continue to support our joint and coalition warfighters well into the future.”



Related Articles
An HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter prepares to engage with the Royal Caribbean cruise line ship Ovation of the Seas for a mission to transport a heart attack victim 400 miles off the coast of San Francisco May 7, 2024. This mission marked the 129th RQW's 1,161 life saved.
California Air Guard Rescues Man at Sea on Cruise Ship
By Senior Airman Serena Smith, | May 13, 2024
MOFFETT AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Calif. - The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center activated the California Air National Guard’s 129th Rescue Wing to airlift a man on a cruise ship to a hospital May 7. The 64-year-old man...

A California Air National Guard C-130J Super Hercules aircraft, assigned to the 146th Airlift Wing, equipped with the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) performs a water drop during MAFFS training at Channel Islands Air National Guard Station, Port Hueneme, California, April 24, 2024. Air National Guard aircrew from the California Air National Guard's, 146th Airlift Wing and the U.S. Air Force Reserve's 302nd Airlift Wing, train together to accomplish their aerial firefighting certification alongside the U.S. Forest Service and other wildfire prevention agencies. The recertification training includes classroom sessions, flying and ground operations for Air Force aircrews, civilian lead plane pilots, and support personnel from the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and other federal and state agencies.
California Guard, U.S. Forest Service Train on Aerial Firefighting
By Master Sgt. Nicholas Carzis, | April 29, 2024
PORT HUENEME, Calif.– The U.S. Forest Service held its annual certification and training event for the aerial firefighting program known as MAFFS (Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System) with the aircrews from Air Force...

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 146th Maintenance Group, 146th Airlift Wing, based on Channel Islands Air National Guard Station, practice executing the fundamentals of Crash Damaged and Disabled Aircraft Recovery on Volk Field in Camp Douglas, Wisconsin, April 16-18, 2024. The CDDAR certified members and augmentees used airbags, forklifts and cranes to raise, pull and stabilize aircraft that simulated different scenarios of downed airplanes.
California Air Guard 146th Maintenance Group Learns New Skill
By Staff Sgt. Kalia Jenkins, | April 22, 2024
VOLK FIELD, Wis. - On a chilly, overcast morning that promised rain in the very northern state of Wisconsin, 28 U.S. Airmen assigned to the 146th Maintenance Group of the Air National Guard in Southern California move...