The 6th Space Warning Squadron: Ever Aware

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Joshua T. Crossman
  • Buckley Garrison Public Affairs

Atop of Flatrock Hill and surrounded by the beautiful Cape Cod Bay, in Mass., originates the sole land-based East coast space warning unit in the United States.

The 6th Space Warning Squadron, often referred to as “TEAM 6,” provides timely and accurate missile warning and space surveillance data to the U.S., its allied leaders, and its 140-member-team. The team works endlessly to ensure the safety and security of North America.

The 6 SWS, previously aligned under the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., now falls under the command of Space Delta 4, located at Buckley Air Force Base, Colo.

The unit is the first Pave Phased Array Warning System (PAWS) installation in America. “Pave” is the program name for an electronic system. “PAWS” enables the operation of the Upgraded Early Warning Radar.

The Pave PAWS Upgraded Early Warning Radar is responsible for detecting sea-launched and intercontinental ballistic missiles, where the crew then provides mid-course interceptor guidance data to the Missile Defense Agency to assist with eliminating any threats. To accomplish this, the Pave PAWS will determine the validity of the system data, determine the number of launched vehicles, and convey the anticipated impact points to the U.S. Space Command and its allies to make key strategic decisions.

The 6 SWS tracks low Earth-orbiting objects like the International Space Station, any object that deviates from its known orbit, or any new orbiting objects such as: space debris, satellite reentries, and launches out of other installations to ensure the safe transport of satellites to their final destination. This information is then communicated to the 18th Space Control Squadron at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., where it is used to maintain the satellite catalog, serving the essential roles of collision avoidance and situational awareness.

This unit prides itself on being leaders and innovators in ground-based radar and installation operations. To help accomplish this vision, 6 SWS not only has teams of space operators but multiple support teams to ensure the continuous operations of the installation and the no-fail missile warning mission.

“As a Security Response Team Leader, I am the senior Integrated Defense Force Flight member assigned to the Protection Level-1 Pave PAWS restricted area on Cape Cod Air Force Station,” said Senior Airman Ahmad Hawkins, a 6th SWS security response team leader. “It is my duty to enable and protect this space mission.”

Hawkins noted that huge improvements in morale and assignment availability are a direct result of mentorship and high expectations from leadership for the Security Forces team.

“Even though we are a stateside unit, this assignment feels more like an overseas unit in the way we work well with and take care of each other,” said Hawkins. “However, the biggest stand out is the high expectations my leaders have for me. This has given me a greater sense of purpose knowing I must lead the way for my airmen, peers, and myself.”

Along with great support teams, 6 SWS’s continual training and improvements on procedures for their space operations allow them to function at exceptional levels.

This specific team member plays an integral part in developing outstanding operators.

“I lead the Space Crew Standardization and Evaluation Program, validating space crew readiness and the effectiveness of the unit’s crew operations,” said 1st Lt. Bradley Diaz, the 6 SWS chief of standardization and evaluation. “I validate unit training and squadron readiness by developing and administering evaluations and exercises.”

Diaz also recommends and implements procedural changes affecting the technical orders, local operating procedures, and he leads the unit’s inspection team.

“What makes my team great is our ability to communicate not only within our own section but also up and down our chain of command, both internally and externally,” said Diaz.

The 6th Space Warning Squadron is an exceptional asset to DEL4 and the United States Space Force. We count on them to keep us safe and “Ever Aware.”