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News | April 23, 2021

JTF-SD earns superior rating in security inspection

By Jennifer Thibault

U.S. Space Command conducted a security inspection April 6-8 and rated its component command, Joint Task Force-Space Defense, superior in its execution of special access program security protocols.

“This is the highest achievement a program can earn and is even more impressive when you consider it was accomplished under the added complications of COVID work limitations,” U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Tom James, JTF-SD commander, said. “[The inspector] recognized the complexity of our operations and the unique security challenges we face every day as we accomplish our critical mission.”

Two inspectors spent three days engaging the JTF-SD security team looking at more than 1,400 accountable items.

“This is my second inspection with this organization but I have been through several of these in other positions and this is a huge achievement,” said Paul Helm, JTF-SD director of the office of command security. “We are unique here, with the multiple programs, the dynamic JTF-SD operations and the different agencies operating here.”

Leading up to the inspection, James stressed the importance of doing well.

“We can’t operate in our environment if we don’t manage classified material correctly,” James said. “Our partnership is powerful but it is incumbent on us all doing our part to properly handle and manage classified information.”

Helm’s team of 15 conducted multiple self-inspections, including some with disinterested party observers, to be sure the organization was ready.

Unlike some security teams which are divided by specialty, i.e. personnel security or industrial security, all JTF-SD security team members are multidisciplinary which paid dividends in this inspection as well as during the last year’s COVID prevention measures.

“We had to go to minimum manning but onboarding personnel didn’t slow down,” he said. “Our team developed virtual in-processing, which was a huge hurdle for us, in order to keep the mission going. I’ve heard some say ‘well I can’t help because COVID,’ but that wasn’t our answer here.”

Those same COVID measures meant many staff we’re also taking on the role of teacher as their children were home schooling. 

“It’s just amazing to me what they were able to accomplish,” Helm said. 

One month before the inspection, the security team gained a civilian deputy, Charles Shaffer, who spent five years with the inspector general prior to assuming his post at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado.

“I was blown away by the multidisciplinary approach. I could go to anyone on the team and they had the answers,” Shaffer said. “I’ve never seen a superior rating before and I never gave one. They’ve set the bar high.”

Shaffer will be charged with maintaining that high bar as Helm transitions to a new position in May. 

“I am so proud of the team, their cooperation and the way they worked together. I am glad to have been part of it,” Helm said. “Keep building upon this reputation you’ve established, enjoy it but don’t let your guard down.”

JTF-SD is set to be inspected again in about 24 months.