Prospective Space Force unit recruiting on Kaua‘i

Garden Island / Scott Yunker From left: Senior Airman Halog, Capt. Kawakami, Senior Airman Tanigawa, Master Sgt. Raquel, Staff Sgt. Remigio, Tech. Sgt. Warrack, Staff Sgt. O’Donnell and Lt. Col. Briggs.

By Scott Yunker,
Published by The Garden Island, 25 November 2021

BARKING SANDS — A Hawai‘i Air National Guard unit with ties to Space Force is looking to fill its ranks.

Currently one year into its tenancy at the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kaua‘i Westside, the group of 38 men and women, dubbed Headquarters Hawai‘i Air National Guard Detachment 1, will eventually expand to 88 full-time and part-time personnel.

Its federal mission, designated “offensive” in contrast to defensive, is interference with satellite communications.

“Have you ever been in a conversation where you’re trying to talk, and somebody is talking over you? Somebody else who’s trying to listen can’t hear what’s happening,” said Lt. Col. Chad J. Briggs, commander of Det. 1, in a recent interview. “That’s essentially what our role is.”

The satellite work is also deployable. When called upon, the unit will operate from tents at any given second location.

“We don’t do the mission here. We’re going off somewhere else,” Lt. Col. Briggs said. “There’s nothing offensive being done from this compound in any way.”

Lt. Col. Briggs spoke in a conference room within Det. 1 headquarters. The nondescript building, which is still labeled with a previous tenant’s sign, illustrates the budding state of Det. 1.

The commanding officer explained his unit, now under the aegis of the Air National Guard, is projected to transfer to the Space National Guard, if and when such an entity comes into being sometime next summer.

Det. 1 would then become the 293rd Space Control Squad, although its mission would remain the same.

The U.S. House of Representatives mandated the institution of a Space National Guard in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022, which it passed in late September.

But the Biden Administration has said it “strongly opposes” the step.

“Establishing a Space National Guard would not deliver new capabilities — it would instead create new government bureaucracy, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates could increase costs by up to $500 million annually,” the White House said in a September statement. “The Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units with space missions have effectively performed their roles with no adverse effect on DOD’s space mission since the establishment of the Space Force.”

Det. 1’s PMRF building is also projected to undergo expansion sometime in 2023.

In the meantime, Lt. Col. Briggs is eager to grow Det. 1 to full size.

Local residents are preferred recruits.

“People coming out of the high school, we train them, they can get a certificate and they can get a job right here on PMRF, instead of going off to the mainland or somewhere else,” Lt. Col. Briggs said. “… My goal is to get into the high schools and the community here, and get this unit fully stood up with people from Kaua‘i.”

PMRF is the third-largest employer on the island. Its public affairs officer, Thomas Clements, said a job on the range isn’t guaranteed upon enlistment in the Air National Guard — but it’s “most definitely” a possibility.

“It’s very much a related skillset,” Clements said.

Currently, three Det. 1 members work full-time jobs at PMRF.

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