2nd SOPS Commander presents at European Navigation Conference

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  • By Space Base Delta 1 Public Affairs

U.S. Space Force Lt. Col. Robert Wray, 2nd Space Operations Squadron commander, gave the keynote speech at the annual European Navigation Conference in Noordwijk, Netherlands on May 31, 2023. 

Wray’s speech marked the USSF’s first appearance at ENC and focused on the international importance of the Global Positioning System and the USSF’s role in maintaining it. Governmental, academic, and defense professionals from across the European Union and the United Kingdom attended the conference.

“GPS is indispensable to the American way of life and that of populations around the world,” said Wray. “GPS has never gone offline, it has never failed, and my Airmen and Guardians work every day to ensure that it will never fail.”

Wray also emphasized GPS is a critical system for both military and civilian sectors who rely on its uninterrupted and steadfast operation, and 2nd SOPS is dedicated to supporting that mission with a team of highly skilled experts.
“The Space Force entrusts some of its most junior members with an incredible responsibility [to operate GPS],” said Wray. “The average age of my operators and engineers is 24, but it is a testament to their professionalism and training that they are able to manage such a critical asset at such a junior age.”

The European Space Agency has its own navigation system, the Galileo constellation, controlled by civilians and solely for civilian use. GPS is operated primarily by military members and has specific signals and tactics designed to support American, allied and partner military capabilities.

After his speech, Wray fielded questions, including why the USSF operates GPS versus a civil entity. Wray explained that the military builds, launches and operates GPS because of its importance to American and global society, and that the United States ensures all necessary resources are prioritized towards the protection and assurance of precision navigation and timing.

Wray hopes the event will build partnerships with European Union officials looking to coordinate with 2nd SOPS to share best practices and deconflict complimentary missions.

The European Navigation Conference is hosted by European Group on Institutes of Navigation, a collection of ten European Nations with specific interests in terrestrial and space-based navigation.