The magnitude of devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina may take months to realize. What is known is that help is needed and it’s needed fast. Air Force Space Command is doing its part and doing so quickly.
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PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The magnitude of devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina may take months to realize. What is known is that help is needed and it’s needed fast. Air Force Space Command is doing its part and doing so quickly.
Examples of this expeditious effort lie with some of the command’s deployed officers.
Col. Jay Santee, current 21st Space Wing vice commander; Maj. Paul Ohla and Capt. Jeff Owens, from Headquarters AFSPC, were notified of a possible deployment less than 24 hours before they set foot on southeastern United States soil.
“I was notified around 3 or 4 p.m. Saturday and I was inprocessing here at 1 p.m. Sunday,” said Colonel Santee, who is the director of space forces.
Captain Owens and Major Ohla both arrived at 1st Air Force, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., approximately 20 hours after they volunteered to go.
“I don’t think you can ask for a quicker military response than that,” said the colonel.
Once on the ground the officers began working space integration activities and developing joint air and space operations plans for Joint Task Force Katrina.
“They have also been tracking down the status of different space capabilities to ensure the systems are at the right location to serve the greatest number of Department of Defense and civilian response personnel,” Colonel Santee said.
As the Director of Space Forces Colonel Santee is the principle advisor to the Joint Functional Air Component commander on integrating space into the relief efforts. Those relief efforts are relying on the command’s most trusted satellite system.
“The navigation and timing signal of the Global Positioning System is always used and expected to be there in situations such as this,” said Colonel Santee.
There are other space based capabilities that have been tailored for this operation as well, the Global Broadcast Service and the Spectral Operations Resource Center Team are among them.
GBS is a one-way, space-based, high-capacity broadcast communication system that is providing information to headquarters Northern Command, Joint Task Force-Katrina and the Combined Air and Space Operations Center at Tyndall AFB, Fla.
The Army’s Spectral Operations Resource Center is exploiting commercial imagery to prepare high-resolution images to civilian and military responders to permit a better understanding of the devastated terrain.
“This is really a joint space operation,” said the colonel.
Members from the Joint Space Operations Center, located at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., are on call providing reach back capability and research to the DIRSPCFOR. The JSPOC is responsible for controlling all joint-space assets. They coordinate and deliver joint space effects and if necessary, they will administer taskings to support the relief efforts.
The deployed officers are in the initial stages of supporting the relief efforts in the southeastern states. They know there is likely a long road ahead of them but they say they are happy to be there.
“I’m glad I am here to do my part,” said Captain Owens. “It’s a good feeling to know we are here to do what we can.”
“I’m saddened that our nation is going through this tragedy of epic proportions but I’m proud to be a part of the team that’s heroic efforts will help get our nation back on its feet,” Colonel Santee added.
In addition, the command has deployed six helicopters and crews with associated maintenance and support personnel to Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. in support of Joint Task Force Katrina. This is the first time AFSPC has taken their helicopters outside of their normal area of operations, which is to provide security for its intercontinental ballistic missile fields.
The command has also deployed approximately 100 security forces personnel to augment security at Keesler and Lackland Air Force Bases.