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CFSCC Spotlight: 55th Combat Training Squadron ensures space operations center readiness

55th Combat Training Squadron redesignation ceremony

Lt. Col. Krista St. Romain (center), former 614th Combat Training Squadron (CTS) commander, stands as the squadron’s guidon is furled during a change of command and re-designation ceremony on Jun. 16, 2021. That same day, Lt. Col. Forrest Poole assumed command of the newly-named 55th CTS, which is responsible for training and exercising all divisions and functions of Space Delta 5 and the Combined Space Operations Center. (U.S. Space Force photo by Royal Canadian Air Force Capt. Jocelyn LaBranche)

Group of 55 Combat Training Squadron guardians with unit emblem.

Instructors and staff assigned to the 55th Combat Training Squadron stand with their squadron emblem in front of their training facility at Vandenberg Space Force Base, Calif., Feb. 2, 2022. The 55th CTS is divided into five flights that train and exercise all divisions and functions of Space Delta 5 and the Combined Space Operations Center (CSpOC). Additionally, the 55th CTS coordinates operator inputs for the integration of new systems capabilities as they pertain to theater and national mission capabilities, and leads exercise execution coordination and tactics, techniques and procedure creation and coordination on behalf of the Space Delta 5 commander and CSpOC director. Pictured here (L to R) from the 55th CTS include: Tech. Sgt. Luis Salcedo, training flight chief; First Lt. Kylie Kester, operations section chief; Maj. Ryan J. Pennington, Space Delta 5 standardization and evaluation chief; Capt. Mark Dizon, training flight commander; First Lt. Anthony Young, staff instructor; Maj. Elizabeth Drobina, senior instructor; and Staff Sgt. Ashley Arrant, operations non-commissioned officer in charge.

55th Combat Training Squadron instructor in classroom

First Lt. Kylie Kester, 55th Combat Training Squadron operations section chief, instructs the Theater Watch Officer Course at Vandenberg Space Force Base, Calif., Feb. 2, 2022. Some of the topics covered by the two-month course includes command and control, sensor management and missile warning, helping to ensure peak readiness of the Combined Space Operations Center. (U.S. Space Force photo by Lt. Col. Mae-Li Allison)

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. --

The Combined Force Space Component Command’s Combined Space Operations Center (CSpOC) works 24-hours a day, seven days a week, to provide tailored space effects that support combatant commanders and accomplish national security objectives.  Even those executing this important mission on a daily basis need to sharpen their skills and strive for continuous improvement, and the 55th Combat Training Squadron (CTS), also based at Vandenberg SFB, is charged with doing just that.

Formerly known as the 614th CTS, the 55th CTS consists of more than 40 personnel who are divided into five flights that train and exercise all divisions and functions of Space Delta 5 and the CSpOC. Additionally, the 55th CTS coordinates operator inputs for the integration of new systems capabilities as they pertain to theater and national mission capabilities, and leads exercise execution coordination and tactics, techniques and procedure creation and coordination on behalf of the Space Delta 5 commander and CSpOC director.

“The 55th CTS is essential to us maintaining peak readiness,” said Col. Monique DeLauter, commander of Space Delta 5 and CSpOC director. “Our mission set of providing dependable space support to combatant commanders and coordinating, planning, integrating, synchronizing and executing space operations is complicated and can be very stressful. The more confidence we can build in our processes and capabilities, the better.”

Last year included a name change for the squadron, but that didn’t change its mission.

“The day I assumed command of the 55th CTS, Jun. 16, 2021, was also the day we furled the flag of the 614th CTS and re-designated the squadron as the 55th,” said Lt. Col Forrest Poole, the squadron’s commander. “The change in name simply allowed us to align better under Space Delta 5, and we remained focused on keeping our Guardians and support staff as prepared as possible to quickly and effectively respond to current and future challenges and space threats.”

That task to properly prepare and equip space operators in a space operations center is no small one, and requires that the squadron constantly looks for ways to educate and inspire its members and trainees to avoid complacency and evolve in the changing space environment.

In 2021, some of the ways the squadron accomplished this included the establishment of a professional development library, consisting of more than 300 books on subjects ranging from the space environment to leadership.  They also guest lectured at several Officer Undergraduate Space Training classes and facilitated dialogue between various space operations and training units to glean best practices.

Prior to the space weather flight moving to the Combat Operations Division of the CSpOC on Feb. 1, 2022, they also assisted in curriculum development for Air Education and Training Command’s Space Weather Support Course and supported with weather inputs to the SpaceX Crew-2 and Crew-3 human space flight missions.

All the squadron accomplishments listed above took place as it completed its core mission of qualifying 76 space operations center students, certifying 40 instructors and 21 evaluators, and participated in or assisted with 23 space and joint exercises.

The squadron’s commitment to excellence also contributed to its recent selection as the U.S. Space Force’s nominee for the Air Force Association’s 2022 “Citation of Honor” Aerospace Award. According to the AFA’s website, the award honors “the outstanding contribution of an individual or organization to the development of aerospace power for the betterment of mankind.” The squadron will now compete for selection at the Department of the Air Force level.

The 55th CTS looks forward to another year of moving forward in the realm of space operations readiness.

“In 2022 and beyond, there will be a renewed focus on defining training for operational space command and control, investment into staff instructors and evaluators, and advanced training opportunities for operators and support staff,” said Lt. Col. Michaela Schannep, the 55th CTS director of operations. “This team knows the huge impact it has on space operations readiness, and we love what we do.”