by Senior Airman Naomi Griego
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
2/20/2015 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- "Camera
and GPS tracking device nab copper thief, Delta 4 on pad for next GPS
launch, and Syracuse Plows Getting GPS Tracking Units," are just a few
of the leading news headlines regarding GPS today.
GPS is a term people use and or misuse daily. The satellite system, also
known as Global Positioning System, consists of 38 satellites, which
circle the Earth twice a day and fly in medium Earth orbit at
approximately 12,550 miles altitude.
GPS prevalence today wasn't predicted at its start. And it was not
always a commodity utilized by more than 3 billion users on a daily
In 1983 President Ronald Reagan ordered the U.S. military to make GPS
available for civilian use due to the Korean Airlines Flight tragedy,
which killed its 269 passengers when it entered Soviet airspace after a
GPS isn't an automated, self-sustaining commodity either.
The 2nd and 19th Space Operations Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base
command and control the GPS constellation, which enables support to the
warfighter, precise timing and much more including those directions from
"Most people are unaware that the GPS satellite constellation is flown
by the men and women of the United States Air Force.This well trained
team of active-duty Airmen, reservists, government civilians, and
contractors ensure the world has GPS 24/7," said Lt. Col. Todd Benson, 2
According to GPS.gov, GPS technology is now in everything from cell
phones and wristwatches to bulldozers, shipping containers and ATMs.
"The uses for GPS reach far beyond navigation," said Benson. "In fact,
GPS is used for precise applications, such as banking transactions,
locating a lost pet, athlete performance data, and is even used at
cemeteries to precisely locate the remains of loved ones."
Lt. Col. Matthew Brandt, 2 SOPS director of operations, gets excited
just talking about how much GPS provides to the world free of charge and
how essential it is.
"You should go home and tell your mom that you helped 3 billion people
today, probably closer to 4 billion now," said Brandt speaking to the
operators whose hands have sent signals to satellites.
Brandt's experience while on a deployment working for the director of
space forces, as theatre space integration officer for the Middle East
opened his eyes to the big picture of GPS.
"In that capacity, I got an opportunity to stop and talk to folks
everywhere and I would ask them, "how does GPS work for you and what do
you do with it," he said.
He said one Tactical Air Control Party Airman's eyes lit up when he mentioned GPS. The TACP responded "It's in everything I do."
The Airman also said GPS is the engine this war is run on.
Brandt realized during his deployment that GPS is in infrared detection
system over remote bases, blimp censor packages, air drop systems,
precision guided munition systems and tools warfighters use.
Brandt acknowledged what this means to the Soldier, Sailor, Marine or Airman down range.
He said GPS is a critical requirement, which enables excellence and mission success.
His message to satellite operators is simple, "Most importantly don't
forget what you're doing when you're looking at the states of health
screens because, there is probably someone sleeping under their Humvee
wanting to go home tonight and they're depending on GPS to do that,"
said Brandt. "The performance GPS does saves lives every day."