21st SOPS, Detachment 2 keeps Andersen covered

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Suzie Plotnikov
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs

“Throughout the years as technology changes, the mission adapts to it,” said Erik Redmond, 21st Space Operations Squadron, Detachment 2 site director.

Consisting of one sole military member, three government civilians and 40 contractors, the detachment conducts satellite operations 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“We receive over 200 satellite contacts a day,” said U.S. Space Force Capt. Nick Gordon, 21st SOPS, Det. 2 commander. “We are the only ground hub on Guam that any Department of Defense entity can use for operations in space.”

When the mission owners need to contact their satellites, this detachment acts as a conduit that allows them establish communication from anywhere in the world and provide real-time satellite command and control operations.

“I want people to be aware of the ground station here and the mission to keep the lines of communication open for warfighters to conduct their space missions,” Gordon said.

The U.S. Space Force was established to provide people, operations, and weapon systems focus within the DoD in contested space domain and provide the control needed for the joint military objectives. Our adversaries are continuing to develop systems to disrupt, degrade, and destroy our space capabilities. To counter efforts and to keep pace, Guam Tracking Station helps with the fight.

Originally established in 1965 as the 6594th Aerospace Test Wing, Operating Location 10, they have undergone several unit reorganizations.

The unit was designated 21st SOPS, Det. 2, 50th Network Operations Group in 2010. In 2020, the 50th NOG was deactivated and established under Space Delta 6, Space Operations Command.

Andersen Air Force Base’s strategic location is vital, being the only ground tracking station in the region. Without it, there would be several hour gaps in information gathering and satellite communication. The detachment supports various missions, including intelligence gathering, weather monitoring, launches, and missile defense not to mention the many mission partners as well.

“Our strategic location and close proximity to our adversaries makes this place valuable,” said Gordon. “Without us, we’d lose our situational awareness.”

According to Gordon, space is tricky and the laws are governed like international waters.

“If a country or company launches a satellite to an unoccupied area in space, it is now their area,” said Gordon. “Sometimes objects detach from their satellites and moves through space, however, if they get close to our satellite, how close is too close for it to be considered a threat?”

The detachment recently celebrated their 58th anniversary of providing critical capabilities in support of the Joint Force in the Indo Pacific Command region.

“It’s an amazing feeling and truly an honor to take command here,” said Gordon. “I want to spread the word that we do cool stuff here. The history is immense, the people of Guam are amazing and this detachment truly feels like a family. I want people to recognize that the Space Force is here and we’re here to protect and defend America’s interests.”