NEWS | Oct. 2, 2020

U.S. Space Force Stands Up First-ever Okinawa Unit

By Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Sutton 18th Wing Public Affairs

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- The rainy Okinawa typhoon season paused for a brief moment on a warm afternoon allowing members of the 16th Space Control Squadron, 16th Expeditionary Space Flight-Alpha, the opportunity to transfer from the United States Air Force into the United States Space Force (USSF).

The new USSF members are the latest from both the officer and enlisted ranks to raise their right hands and officially transfer.

These members are the first USSF members on Okinawa and represent a small portion of the more than 2,400 Air Force personnel selected for transfer.

"It’s absolutely amazing to have this opportunity and responsibility," said USSF Capt. Devin Rushing, 16th Space Control Squadron, 16th ESPCF-A deployment commander. "When other service members see Space Force on our chest, we are aware we are the first members of the USSF they have interacted with."

Rushing explained how his small team’s actions encapsulate the perception of the USSF in Japan and the Indo-Pacific.

"We truly get to shape the culture of the Space Force and the overall perception of what our service is all about," Rushing explained. "Personally, I never imagined my career shaping the way it has and becoming the first USSF flight commander on Okinawa. I grew up in Desoto, Texas, and attended the United States Air Force Academy. When I was offered the chance to transfer to the Space Force I couldn’t let an opportunity to be a part of history slip through my fingers."

The flight’s main responsibility consists of electromagnetic interference resolution and satellite environment awareness for the United States and coalition partners, as well as joint force integration with our sister services.

"We support the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit as well as the flying missions out of Kadena Air Base," said 1st Lt. Monica Callan, 16th SPCS, 16th ESPCF-A crew commander. "Additionally, we work with the U.S. Army providing them vital information. It’s really amazing talking across the different services and units because you get to learn about their culture and how they operate. Personally, I love protecting communication during their missions. Knowing those service-specific details really adds a human aspect to those missions and reiterates how important our job is."

Maintaining constant over-watch of those critical SATCOM links provides increased lethality to the joint-warfighter helping ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.

"We are a forward deployed space unit providing satellite communications over-watch for the Indo-Pacific," Rushing said. "Essentially, we are the eye in the sky for units in the Indo-Pacific area of operations who utilize SATCOM. We provide those users with interference notification as well as locations of interference sources. We are able to do this by effectively using our greatest assets ...our members. These professionals are now a joint contingent of Airmen and Space professionals, all driven by innovation."

These Space professionals maintain expertise in the realm satellite communications offering a better understanding of SATCOM in general and providing continuous support to multiple mission partners.

"Constantly striving to expand our mission space is a huge priority for us," Rushing explained. "It’s one of our major initiatives to be able to build current relationships and find new opportunities for our mission. Everyone is using SATCOM so finding opportunities for joint-service integration is vital. We are constantly communicating with our mission partners to ensure we’re hitting the mark and working together with multiple partners simultaneously and increase cross-communication in order to accomplish the mission. Developing lasting relationships across the region and building a community of trust among our partners will ensure everyone’s mission is successful."