by Airman 1st Class Luke Nowakowski
460th Space Wing Public Affairs
12/7/2015 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- In
the midst of the Cold War, the United States came to the realization
that being able to better detect incoming intercontinental ballistic
missiles would allow for better defensive measures. Years of ingenuity
and development created the Defense Support Program, which uses infrared
to detect missile launches. This program, established 45 years ago,
plays an integral role in defending the nation and its allies against
enemies who possess the capability to launch a variety of missile
Colorado is host to the nation's premier military installation that
provides space-based missile warning capabilities. For more than four
decades, Colorado has been a pillar to national defense and because of
this, John W. Hickenlooper, Governor of the State of Colorado,
proclaimed December 4, and forever after, as "Space-Based Missile
Approximately 8,000 infrared events are detected and addressed each
year, all from spacecraft connected to Colorado, providing safety and
security to billions of people around the world.
In honor of the day, Buckley AFB held a ceremony to commemorate the
newly proclaimed day in Colorado. Dozens of distinguished guests and
community leaders gathered to celebrate the importance of the mission
and honor those who are involved in its success. Amongst the visitors,
was Su Ryden, State House Representatives legislator district 36, who
read and presented the official proclamation to Col. John Wagner, 460th
Space Wing commander.
"Colorado is proud to be a leader in providing space-based missile
warning, which has a far-reaching utility and whose multi-use services
are critical to national and global security," said Ryden.
Our Air Force's space-based missile warning program has a robust history
stemming from the 1960s through the present. As these programs have
evolved over the decades, their continued presence demonstrates their
necessity to ensuring our national defense, stated Wagner.
"Today is a day to highlight the capability of DSP and the current and
future contributions of the Space-based Infrared System, which is the
follow-on capability to the highly successful DSP, that helps maximize
communication in support of national security," Wagner said. "As the
SBIRS program continues to advance, new mission opportunities are
underway, including support civil agencies, in order to enhance their
respective missions such as U.S. Forest Services with early forest fire
Wagner, along with Col. Michael Jackson, 460th Space Wing Operations
Group commander, and Col. Thomas Mckenna, 233rd Space Group commander,
spoke on the importance space-based missile warning plays in combating
evolving global threats.
"The only system in existence that can see it and do anything about it
is hosted right here at Buckley Air Force Base," Jackson said, as he
pointed to a chart that illuminated dozens of countries that have the
capability to launch missiles against the U.S. and its allies.
During his presentation, Jackson also highlighted how DSP has changed how the nation reacts to the threat of ICBMs.
The U.S. understands the importance of the information that these
satellites provide for the defense of the nation and has invested more
than 50 billion dollars towards the construction, maintenance and
appropriate manning needed to operate these satellites. That is
equivalent to 5 aircraft carriers, stated Jackson.
"The most important part of the mission, however, is the operators,"
Jackson said. "Without innovative Airmen and without the ability to
critically think through problem sets and identify how to overcome the
next challenge, all we're doing is buying stuff. I will give every
capability we have to anyone of our adversaries and let them try to do
it as well as our Airmen. I'll dare them."