• Lt. Gen. Michael Guetlein, USSF, commander, Space Systems Command, pictured at the podium during the official stand up ceremony of the U.S. Space Force’s new Space Systems Command August 13, takes the reins as the command’s first leader.
     Lt. Gen. Michael Guetlein, USSF, commander, Space Systems Command, pictured at the podium during the official stand up ceremony of the U.S. Space Force’s new Space Systems Command August 13, takes the reins as the command’s first leader.
  • Warfighters attend the historic redesignation ceremony of the U.S. Space Force’s new Space Systems Command August 13 at Los Angeles Air Force Base.
     Warfighters attend the historic redesignation ceremony of the U.S. Space Force’s new Space Systems Command August 13 at Los Angeles Air Force Base.

The Space Force Officially Stands Up the Space Systems Command

August 13, 2021
By Kimberly Underwood
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Lt. Gen. Michael Guetlein, USSF, steps into the role of the historic command’s first leader.


The U.S. Space Force officially stood up the Space Systems Command, or SSC, today. Leaders spent the last year developing the new field command redesignated from the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base.

The SSC stand up cleared one of the last hurdles with the U.S. Senate’s July 26 voice vote approval of SSC’s first commander, Maj. Gen. Michael Guetlein, USSF, to become lieutenant general. The commander, who had most recently served as the deputy director of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), took lead of SSC during a ceremony at the base today; Lt. Gen. John Thompson, USAF, the commander of SMC, retired July 27.

“I've been fortunate enough to participate in many similar events throughout my career, but none have been quite as monumental in nature as the ceremony today,” Gen. Guetlein stated. “As Gen. [Jay] Raymond [chief of Space Operations] said, I’ve had four SMC assignments. This is [now] the home of the men and women of Space Systems Command, and I could not be more excited to join this organization whose task is to innovate, acquire and field world class capabilities for our nation's newest, latest and most technologically advanced service.”

Leaders speaking at the ceremony outlined the new command’s important heritage, beginning with the 1954 establishment of the Western Development Division by Gen. Schriever, “who propelled the United States into space,” Gen. Guetlein noted. “He chose Southern California to be the home of the Western Development Division because it was insulated from the daily grind of Washington, D.C. It was close to industry and close to our innovation, and close to the workforce that would be required to accomplish these feats. And all of this still rings true for the establishment Space Systems Command.”

The new commander said he would take the first 90 or so days to learn from and listen to SCC’s guardians and personnel about their processes and efforts. However, after that Gen. Guetlein intends to “move swiftly and establish Space Systems Command as a world class organization,” given the urgent space-centered threats the nation faces.

“Why did we stand up Space Force, why is the nation investing so much treasure into space, and why do we need a culture shift in the way we buy space capabilities?” he asked. “Well, the answers may sound straightforward, yet the implementation has been anything but. Today the nation and our allies rely on space for every aspect of our daily lives, and our warfighters are dependent on it to counter aggression around the globe.”

In his previous role at NRO, the commander said he saw first-hand what adversaries were doing. “I had a front row seat observing the unprofessional behavior and challenges being imposed on us by our adversaries,” he warned. “Gen. Raymond has been sounding the alarm and talking about direct descent weapons, directed energy weapons, nesting dolls, space cyber hacks and even robots in space. They all sound like fantasy to the layperson but this isn't science fiction. It's what is happening today. Make no doubt about it the threat is real and it is up to Space Systems Command to counter the rising threat with game-changing capabilities."

Elevating the former Space and Missile Systems Center, or SMC, to a field command “was a pretty big step,” said Col. Matthew Spencer, USAF, SSC core team lead who led the planning and development for standing up the field command, who spoke during a virtual AFCEA luncheon last month. “It was an honor and a great privilege to be part of the team that actually designed and stood up the field command." 

Patrick Space Force Base, Florida, and the renamed launch operations center, Space Launch Delta 45, and Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, and its Space Launch Delta 30, are now part of SSC.

 

 

“Space Systems Command is continuing the culture shift from being service providers to being warfighters,” Gen. Guetlein noted. “And we cannot let this be a nameplate change from SMC to SSC. We must be bold, and we must get after the threat.”

The new commander added that the evolution of SSC and the capabilities it brings “will require unprecedented unity of effort through partnerships with industry and academia.”.

 

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