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Air Force Space Command’s Gen. John Raymond and Space and Missile Systems Center Commander Lt. Gen. John Thompson are scheduled to testify next week at a Senate Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee hearing on military space operations and programs.
One of the topics they are expected to discuss is the reorganization of SMC, called SMC 2.0. The question of how SMC is positioning itself for the future is gaining attention in light of the Pentagon’s decision to establish a Space Development Agency, which some view as a long-term existential threat to SMC.
In January, we reported some of the details about SMC 2.0, which turns vertical stovepipes focused on mission areas and turns them into a horizontal “enterprise.” Vertically organized directorates would be replaced by four key organizations: a Development Corps (for innovation and prototyping), a Production Corps, and Enterprise Corps (for launch services and product support) and an Atlas Corps (for workforce talent and culture management).
All this is still in the works and will not be finalized for several months. According to an industry source, one of the more interesting changes is that these new organizations will be led by civilians, which will ensure continuity. “I think the bigger story is about how so many colonels are leaving, changing roles, and how SMC is really working to remedy inconsistencies by creating more long-term civilian roles,” the source said. “It’s hard to be a true enterprise with constant shuffling by leaders in uniform.”
How will SMC 2.0 do business differently? For one, it will be more open to nontraditional ways of buying products and services. Thomas Becht, executive director of SMC’s Military Satellite Communications Systems Directorate, confirmed last week that the Air Force is considering a proposal from Boeing to deliver “in orbit” the next Wideband Global Satcom satellite, WGS-11. That means the Air Force would pay Boeing to build and launch the satellite as a package deal, potentially saving the government time and money. “Boeing delivered a proposal at the end of January, with an option for delivery in orbit,” Becht told reporters. “Under SMC 2.0 we try to leverage commercial practices. Boeing has a history of providing commercial satellites with delivery in orbit and we wanted to explore that option.”
Col. Russell Teehan, SMC’s Portfolio Architect, said this is a dramatic departure from the way things have been done for decades. “We have to work as a family of systems,” he said last month at a Mitchell Institute event. “We’re vulnerable because we lean on individual elements of the enterprise. We’re not moving data across commercial partners and allies.”
“We built an entire system that is geared toward 15 to 20 year planning for any system in the architecture” and each element takes 200 people to build, Teehan said. “Enterprise planning is the opposite of what we’ve done in the past.”