SMC Redesign Focused on Increasing Effectiveness

SECAF Heather Wilson delivers the key note address at the 34th Annual Space Symposium April 17, 2018, in Colorado Springs, Colo. USAF photo by SrA. Dennis J. Hoffman.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.—The Air Force is reorganizing the Space and Missile Systems Center in an effort to increase the center’s effectiveness in developing military space systems, its commander told reporters Thursday.

Lt. Gen. John Thompson discussed the redesign during a press conference with Gen. Jay Raymond, commander of Air Force Space Command, following Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson’s announcement of the move during her keynote speech at the 34th Space Symposium Tuesday night.

Thompson said the center has become “too stovepiped” in managing large programs. It should be managed “more like an enterprise,” taking advantage of similarities among programs and partnerships, as well as innovation and speed, to establish a portfolio architect, and to “manage more crossways across the enterprise.”

About 85 percent of the center’s funding goes to four large programs, he said, referring to remote sensing, GPS, military satellite communications, and launch. However, in the future, he would rather see SMC “concentrating more on capability and speed to market, in other words, get effective warfighting systems to our space warfighters and do it more efficiently for our taxpayers.”

He said in the short term he did not expect the change to affect the existing larger programs, but long-term there could be the possibility of, for example, standardized busses in low-Earth or geosynchronous orbit.

“The bottom line is we still believe in life-cycle management. We still believe in managing programs from cradle to grave. I, however, believe, and I think the Air Force also believes, that the way to manage those programs can be better bucketed across an enterprise,” he said.