COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The U.S. Army Satellite Operations Brigade’s Regional Satellite Support Center-Pacific, supported humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts for Cyclone Yasa, which battered Fiji’s Vanua Levu Island, Dec. 17.
A team of Army Space Soldiers from RSSC-Pacific assisted with wideband satellite communications for the mission by processing satellite access requests, two of which went to the Australian Defense Force and two went to the New Zealand Defense Force.
“I can safely say on behalf of our entire team, it is very gratifying to support these humanitarian assistance/disaster relief efforts,” said Iwalani Gutierrez, RSSC-Pacific director. “Knowing that what we do matters helps the team get through the long days of 12-hour shifts in our 24/7 operations. This Fiji relief effort happened during the holidays, and my team can be relied upon to stand watch ready to respond to any contingency in support of our customers.”
Planning for satellite access solutions was primarily provided by two Soldiers, Sgt. Ryan Chilton of the Australian Defense Force and Staff Sgt. Felix Loperena, and one civilian contractor, Joe Myers, at the RSSC-Pacific located at Wheeler Army Air Field in Hawaii, Dec. 19-21.
Chilton is attached to RSSC-Pacific as part of the Australian Cooperative Partnership Program.
“When you sign up for this job, you always think you might be involved in missions of these types,” Chilton said. “Then something comes along like this where you ARE actually part of a real-world operation that really makes a difference in people’s lives.”
Vince Street, a civilian contractor, and Sgt. Devon Lenz also assisted with satellite operations for the mission.
“These (missions) are of the utmost priority,” Lenz said. “Anytime you have a disaster of this magnitude and you’re called upon to help out, you are going to do your part as best you can.”
Up to 93,000 people were affected by the cyclone – a high-end category 5 storm that registered winds up to 214 mph according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. Four people were reported dead, and the cyclone caused about $1.4 billion in damage to health facilities, homes, schools, agriculture and infrastructure. The cyclone was one of the strongest storms ever recorded in the southern hemisphere.
The U.S. Army Satellite Operations Brigade’s Satellite Communications Directorate executes U.S. Space Command’s assigned mission for both wideband and narrowband SATCOM systems. The four RSSCs, which are located at Wheeler Army Airfield; Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado; MacDill Air Force Base, Florida; and Patch Barracks, Stuttgart, Germany, provide 24/7/365 SATCOM planning, engineering and satellite payload management for all DOD SATCOM systems.
The RSSCs work with regional SATCOM users planning and authorizing critically required connectivity for system users across the full range of military operations including diplomatic, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and scientific missions in zones where the communications infrastructure can be destroyed, degraded or is simply non-existent.
The Satellite Operations Brigade belongs to the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command.