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Space Systems Command geared to deliver swift, responsive space capabilities

  • Published
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

The Space Force released the organizational structure for its new Space Systems Command April 8. The Command is set to officially stand up in summer 2021 once all required conditions are met to re-designate the Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, as SSC headquarters.


SSC will rapidly identify, prototype, and field innovative, space-based solutions to deliver swift and responsive space capabilities to meet the demands of the National Defense Strategy.


“Space Systems Command’s organizational structure was purpose-built to anticipate and be responsive to the challenges presented by a contested space domain,” said Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, USSF chief of space operations. “We took the SMC 2.0 transformation of 2019 to the next level, aligning missions and organizations, and pushing authorities down from the three-star level to lower echelons in order to reduce cost and go fast. This will allow us to move at speed in delivering the resilient space capabilities necessary to stay ahead of a growing threat.”


The establishment of SSC will elevate the current responsibilities of SMC to that of a U.S. Space Force Field Command. SSC will be responsible for developing, acquiring, equipping, fielding, and sustaining resilient space capabilities to enhance joint lethality. This includes launch, developmental testing, on-orbit checkout, and sustainment. SSC will also provide strategic oversight of USSF science and technology activities.


“SMC led the nation in developing and delivering unparalleled, enduring space capabilities to the warfighter and our nation’s allies,” said Lt. Gen. John F. Thompson, SMC commander. “With the re-designation of SMC as SSC, we will further build upon the success seen with SMC 2.0, while synchronizing the science and technology research, capability development, system production, launch operations, and system sustainment efforts to more effectively deliver cutting-edge space systems needed to ensure the future of our national security and prosperity. Furthering our focus on accelerating the pace of acquisition while still delivering excellence, we will continue to emphasize more partnerships and more innovation.”


One of the required conditions to establish SSC will be met after a USSF general officer is nominated by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to fill the position of the three-star general officer SSC commander.


The SSC deputy commander will be a two-star USSF officer, who will also serve as the Assured Access to Space leader, responsible for integration and oversight across the entire Launch Enterprise.


Upon official establishment, additional units will realign from the Air Force to the Space Force or re-designate as part of SSC. As these units and mission sets realign to the Space Force and SSC, military and civilian personnel in those units will also be assigned to the new armed service. No geographic moves of personnel or units are anticipated as a result of actions required to establish this Field Command.

These unit changes include:


- SMC subordinate units will realign to SSC.


- The 61st Air Base Group at LAAFB is projected to be re-designated as the Los Angeles Garrison, aligned under SSC.


- The 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg AFB, California, will be re-designated as Space Launch Delta 30 and the 45th Space Wing at Patrick Space Force Base, Florida, will be re-designated as SLD 45. SLD 30 and SLD 45 and their respective subordinate units will realign from under Space Operations Command to SSC.


- The SLD 45 commander will be a one-star USSF general officer who will also be the director of the eastern range, the SSC operations director, and the acquisition lead for the range of the future.


- Subordinate group-level organizations such as the mission support group and operations group at 30SW and 45SW are planning to inactivate, and units previously aligned under these organizations will look to realign under their respective Space Launch Deltas.


- The 45th Range Squadron at Patrick SFB will be re-designated as the 1st Range Operations Squadron and will transfer the airfield management and associated maintenance responsibilities and resources to the existing 45th Logistics Readiness Squadron. The operational mission communications responsibilities and resources will realign from 45th Space Communications Squadron to 1 ROPS.


- The Launch Enterprise will be established as an office under SSC. The Launch Enterprise will realign under the SSC deputy commander.


- The manpower and funding of the Air Force Research Laboratory units that perform space science and technology functions will be under the administrative control of SSC, but will remain aligned to the AFRL commander for unity of effort. These units include Space Vehicles Directorate, Space Electro-Optics Division, Rocket Propulsion Division, and the Space Systems Technology Division.


- The Strategic Warning and Surveillance Systems Division will transfer from Air Force Life Cycle Management Center to SSC. The Division is the program office for ground-based radars, missile warning, space domain awareness, missile defense systems, and shared early warning capabilities.


- The Space Force Commercial Satellite Communications Office is currently aligned under SMC as approved under a previous organization change request and will remain aligned to SSC when it is established as a field command.


Additionally, SSC will provide select administrative and integration support to the Space Rapid Capabilities Office at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, which is currently a direct reporting unit to the Chief of Space Operations. The Space Rapid Capabilities Office will receive their acquisition authorities from the Service Acquisition Executive.

Per the fiscal year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, the Space Development Agency will transfer from the Department of Defense to the Space Force Oct. 1, 2022, as a unit aligning directly to the CSO. Upon transfer, SSC will provide select administrative and integration support to SDA. The Space Development Agency will receive their acquisition authorities from the Service Acquisition Executive at that time.


The USSF organizational structure for echelons below the service headquarters is designed to support a lean, agile and mission-focused force. In order of hierarchy, the USSF field echelons are named field commands, deltas or garrisons, and squadrons. There are three planned field commands aligned to specific mission focuses, of which SSC will be the second established.


The other two field commands are Space Operations Command and the planned Space Training and Readiness Command. SpOC was established Oct. 21, 2020, and is responsible for organizing, training, and equipping fielded space forces who execute space warfighting operations for combatant commanders, coalition partners, the joint force, and the nation.


STARCOM is projected to stand up in 2021 and will oversee training, education and professional development of units and personnel, doctrine development, and operational test of fielded systems.


The Space Force’s new field structure effectively organizes space forces to fight in place within mission deltas. Installation support functions align under garrisons and look to utilize Air Force units and personnel through Air Force mission support groups, medical groups, and special staff.

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