USSF’s Space Systems Command To Stand Up This Summer

USSF’s Space Systems Command To Stand Up This Summer

Gen. Jay Raymond, Chief of Space Operations and head of the U.S. Space Force, announced today that the second Space Force field command, Space Systems Command, will stand up this summer. It is essentially a rebranding of the former Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. No specific date was set for its establishment. That will wait until a commander is nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

Established as the sixth military service on December 20, 2019, the Space Force is still in its formative stage.  It is part of the Department of the Air Force, just as the Marine Corps is part of the Department of the Navy.

The first of its three field commands, Space Operations Command (SpOC), stood up last year. Space Systems Command (SSC) is next. The third, Space Training and Readiness Command (STAR Command), will come later this year.

Raymond and Lt. Gen. John T. Thompson, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) at Los Angeles Air Force Base, told reporters today that SMC will be re-designated as SSC.

SMC recently went through a “transformation” called SMC 2.0.  Raymond said this will take it to the next level.

“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.” — Gen. Jay Raymond

Thompson added that “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.”

He said SMC 2.0 flattened the SMC organization and “put leadership closer to our program offices to improve the pace at which acquisition decisions were made.”

Raymond emphasized again today, as he often does, that the Space Force must be lean, agile, and “go fast” to respond to space threats posed in particular by Russia and China.

SSC will be commanded by a three-star officer, with a two-star deputy who will also be the Assured Access to Space leader responsible for integration and oversight across the launch enterprise.

The new organization involves a number of realignments.

  • SMC subordinate units will realign to SSC.
  • The 61st Air Base Group at Los Angeles Air Force Base will be re-designated as the Los Angeles Garrison, aligned under SSC.
  • The 30th Space Wing (SW) at Vandenberg AFB will be re-designated as Space Launch Delta (SLD) 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 (AFRL) 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.

They stressed that no geographic moves are envisioned and all of this will be revenue neutral even though after all the realignments the number of civilian, military and support contractor personnel will grow from 6,000 assigned to SMC to 10,000-11,000 in SSC.


As the organization chart shows, the commander of SSC formally reports to the Secretary of the Air Force (SECAF), not Raymond.

A Space Force spokesperson told today that Air Force Major Commands and Space Force Field Commands report to the SECAF for command authority. The service chiefs (the CSO and the Air Force Chief of Staff) “provide day-to-day influence, guidance, and direction on behalf of the SECAF.”  She added that Program Executive Officers (PEOs) report directly to the Service Acquisition Executive (SEO). Space Force PEOs will continue to report to the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics as SAE until the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Acquisition and Integration is in place.

President Biden has nominated only a few individuals for positions at DOD so far.  Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks are in place. His nomination of Colin Kahl for the third highest ranking position, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, is meeting resistance in the Senate. Last week he nominated three others: Ronald Moultrie for Under Secretary for Intelligence & Security; Michael McCord for Under Secretary (Comptroller); and Michael Brown, Under Secretary for Acquisition & Sustainment.

No nominations have been made for any of the service secretaries, including Secretary of the Air Force.  When a nomination for commander of SSC might be forthcoming is unclear and since getting confirmation by the Senate can be a time consuming process, “summer” may be optimistic for getting SSC underway.

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