By By Ruth Quigley, USAKA/RTS Public Affairs OfficerJanuary 27, 2012
U.S. ARMY KWAJALEIN ATOLL, Marshall Islands - The commander for Air Force Space Command got a firsthand look at the radar and GPS facilities on Kwajalein and Roi-Namur during a visit to USAKA Monday and Tuesday.
Gen. William Shelton and several one-star generals from his staff came to Kwajalein to visit facilities and discuss future efforts of cooperation and coordination between the Air Force and Army in the arena of space operations.
"USAKA plays an important role in support of space operations missions," said Col. Joseph Gaines, USAKA/RTS commander. "Many people think of USAKA as just a test range; however, what we contribute to the space operations mission is quite significant. Having Gen. Shelton come to Kwajalein is recognition of the important role USAKA/RTS plays in the space operations arena."
USAKA and the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command have a history of working with the Air Force on many projects. Every year the Air Force uses Kwajalein in some capacity to conduct tests of the Minuteman III system. USAKA also participates in the Joint Space Operations Center with the Air Force, tracking objects in space during specified times.
"The RTS sensors play an important role in the Space Surveillance Network," said Kurt Schwann, MIT/Lincoln Labs site manager. "Visitors cannot help but be impressed with this atoll, the sensors, and the people. [Shelton and his staff] gained a clear understanding of our capabilities and the crucial role that we play."
Shelton and his staff spent a day on Roi-Namur touring all but one of the radar and optics sites on the island. Shelton was engaged during the entire visit, asking specific questions about each of the sites and showing a keen understanding of how radars operate.
At one site, the issue of parts replacement was mentioned, and one of the technicians explained the unique situation. Some of the radar parts are unique to that system and are not bulk-manufactured. The standard Army policy is to have a command turn in any parts not used in the past two years. However, for these radar parts an exception had to be made because some radar parts are much older, but still very needed.
Shelton also visited the Global Positioning System site on Kwajalein and enjoyed a potluck dinner with Gaines, his staff and key contractors Monday.
Shelton and his staff headed to Guam after departing Kwajalein Tuesday. He was accompanied by staff from AFSPC's headquarters: Brig. Gen. Samuel Greaves, director of plans, programs and analyses; Brig. Gen. Martin Whelan, director of requirements; Brig. Gen. David Thompson, director of air, space and cyberspace operations; Brig. Gen. Ian Dickinson, director of communications and information; and Jeffrey Allen, director of logistics, installations and mission support, and the commanders of the 21st and 50th Space Wings.
Shelton is responsible for "organizing, equipping, training and maintaining mission-ready space and cyberspace forces and capabilities for North American Aerospace Defense Command, U.S. Strategic Command and other combatant commands around the world," according to a biography of Shelton found on the Air Force website. He is also in charge of space system development and acquisition.
Air Force Space Command is headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., with units stationed all over the country and the globe.