VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE – There was little fanfare at the Santa Barbara airport as members of the 216th Space Control Squadron made their return here Feb. 13.
But for members of the 216th, being home is a reward unto itself, along with the knowledge they achieved mission success and the remarkable accomplishment of being the first space unit deployed for the Air National Guard.
“I am extremely proud of them,” said Col. Douglas Hire, Commander of the 195th Wing at Beale. “We are getting lots of accolades from the folks downrange.”
The 216th is based out of Vandenberg AFB, California. The unit returns home from a six-month deployment oversees supporting combatant commands on a first-of-its-kind mission.
“This homecoming represents a historic mission complete and historic changeover in theatre,” said Lt. Col. Steven Kimel, Commander of the 216th. “It really validates the Guard’s acceptance in this mission area and puts us shoulder-to-shoulder with our total force integration partners.”
“It’s big,” said Hire. “Not only is it the first space unit deployed for the Air National Guard – they are also replacing themselves in theatre. My hat’s off to them. Not only for the deployment, but for all the time, effort and training it took to prepare to go.”
The mission of the 216th is to conduct offensive and defensive space control and space situational awareness taskings to rapidly achieve flexible and versatile effects in support of global and theater campaigns.
“They are contributing to the joint fight,” said Hire. “They are contributing to the warfighter.”
The squadron is part of the California Air National Guard’s 195th Wing, located at Beale, Air Force Base. The Wing, made up of seven squadrons and six operating locations, is spread across over 543 miles throughout the state.
“We have great people led by a great leadership team,” said Hire. “Everyone is an expert.”
The 195th Wing is an extraordinary group of integrated professionals who manage a diverse mission-set which includes not only space but also cyberspace, intelligence and combat communications.
Next up for the 216th is two days of reintegration processing at Vandenberg Air Force Base, along with some needed rest and relaxation.
“It takes a special person to serve in the Air National Guard,” says Hire. “I salute the 216th and their families for their dedication to service defending the nation.”