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NEWS | June 22, 2022

233rd Space Group celebrates first graduating class for new qualification course

By Master Sgt. Amanda Geiger, 140th Wing Public Affairs and Staff Sgt. Chastity Lollis, 233rd Communications Squadron

The first official Signal Management System Mission Qualification Course, conducted Jan. 18 - March 25, 2022, for 36 training days, celebrated its first graduation ceremony from the 233rd Space Group, Detachment 1, Combat Training System.

The SMS makes up a portion of the Integrated AN/ TLQ-34 Communications Satellite Countermeasure Set.

Class SMS 22-1, comprised of members from the California Air National Guard and the 233rd SG, Colorado Air National Guard presented their certification brief to 233rd SG Deputy Commander U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Stephanie Figueroa as their final action. This demonstration displayed the hard work and knowledge gained on the weapons system.

The success of the course relied upon the instruction of U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Greg Wagner, the primary offensive electronic warfare instructor , and U.S Air Force Tech. Sgt. Margery Errington, alternate instructor and primary evaluator . The course was also evaluated by U.S. Air Force Capt. Michael Lockette, chief of training , and Senior Master Sgt. Harry Mitchell, 233rd DET 1 senior enlisted leader.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Nicholas Merz, Operations Officer, 233rd Space Group DET 1, provides his expert perspective on the value of the course.

Q: How did the Combat Training System develop?

A: The need for CTS was identified via a shortage of Offensive Space Electronic Warfare mission qualified personnel in the U.S. Space Force due to a heavily-constrained training pipeline. This backlog has been further exacerbated as the ANG solidifies its offensive and defensive space control missions. To relieve this excess of untrained, SEW personnel, approval was made at the general officer level between the Space Operations Center and National Guard Bureau Space Operations to establish an additional training pipeline. Additionally, there’s a lack of sufficient training personnel and facility space at Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado Springs, where the majority of SEW mission qualification training occurs. The CTS at Greeley ANG Station, Greeley, provides a low-cost solution that utilizes the existing workforce, equipment and facilities to meet this demand.

Q: How is this school important, not only for the 233rd, but for Active Duty as well?

A: The 233rd SG DET 1 is essential, not only to the National Guard, but to Active Duty, and as a dedicated Offensive Space Control training source. DET 1 aids operational Electromagnetic Warfare Squadrons to meet their readiness requirements by providing mission-ready Space Electronic Warfare operators. Upon graduation, SEW operators are fully qualified in their weapon system and ready to deploy independent of any additional individual deployment requirements. The 233rd SG DET 1 is currently coordinating with the AD SEW training squadron to pick up other AD training requirements due to an enterprise-wide system upgrade. The 233rd DET 1 will be instrumental to AD and National Guard mobility readiness and a successful weapons system upgrade.

Q: What is the significance of the ANG spear-heading a school like this?

A: The ANG is uniquely qualified to spearhead a course such as this by offering weapon system experts and experience that only the Guard provides. National Guard personnel are generally not subject to continuous permanent change of station requirements that our AD counterparts meet. Our instructor core's continuity and longevity allow students and aspiring SEW instructors and evaluators across the enterprise to learn from other well-established instructors. The 233rd DET 1 provides a place where potential National Guard or AD instructors can learn from seasoned weapon system experts and take that newly acquired knowledge home to their units.

Q: What will students learn at the EWS?

A: The EWS covers an extensive list of concepts while students attend the course, beginning with learning diverse space and electromagnetic domain principles. These learning objectives consist of satellite antenna tuning and positioning, satellite orbiting and location finding, fundamentals of modern satellite communications architectures and electromagnetic spectrum theory. The second half of the class applies all the principles learned up until that point. Students combine all lessons and demonstrate the application of mission objectives and perform electromagnetic engagements on a closed system designed to show real-world effects. The course culminates in operators who can comprehensively conduct a 10.2 Counter Communication System mission.

Q: What will the students gain upon graduating from EWS?

A: Upon graduating, students carry the designation of Combat Mission Ready Space Control Operators. They are fully mission qualified and capable of deploying with one of the four ANG EWSs in Florida, Colorado, California, or Hawaii. The operators will return to their home station and work on continuation training requirements and upgrade qualifications for crew chief or crew commander.