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Space

Symposium keys on space support

by Joe Davidson
Space and Missile Systems Center Public Affairs


11/30/2005 - LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFPN) -- The theme for this year’s Air Force Association National Symposium was “Space – Enabling the War Fighter.” 

With this in mind, Space and Missile Systems Center commander Lt. Gen. Michael Hamel and other Air Force leaders, and industry partners met in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Nov. 18 to discuss their roles in this vital effort.

The discussions were held to re-affirm their commitment to support the warfighter in the global war on terrorism, support others stationed around the world and to members of the military assisting in the relief efforts in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

General Hamel spoke about the early days of SMC, when its engineers, many of whom were World War II veterans, realized the importance of their talents in helping to produce the first-generation intercontinental ballistic missiles. The survival of the nation against the threat of the Soviet Union was the priority then.

A string of vital capabilities such as Thor, Atlas, Delta, Titan, Discoverer and the Defense Satellite Communications System were developed within the first 10 years of the Western Development Division that helped to lay the foundations of every aspect of operational space capability known today.

Gen. Lance W. Lord, Air Force Space Command commander, touched on the theme of this year’s symposium and began his comments by posing an argument to the audience. 

“I would argue that we’re not just enabling the warfighter, we’re at war in space”, General Lord said. “We’re at war in space because we are supporting and winning the global war on terrorism and as a result we’ve got to protect and defend the (satellite)constellations and the kinds of capabilities we put forth in space. We have to think in those terms.”

Gen. Lance Smith, commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command and former deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, understands space by seeing what was going on in day-to-day life in Baghdad. “You space guys are providing us with our lifeline,” General Smith said. “We use it and take it for granted, but if we ever lost it people would die.”

During a panel discussion on the space systems acquisition process, General Hamel said there were problems in the space acquisition process that were based on misplaced hope and the formerly held concept that delivery of space systems was based on a "faster, cheaper and better techniques" philosophy. He said strategies such as these in the space acquisition business were very unforgiving.

General Hamel stressed the importance of concentrating on people as well as processes and partnerships.

“We continue to get a lot of very, very bright young men and women that come in through our officer and enlisted ranks, and we’re revitalizing the training we give those bright young folks to make sure they understand not simply the terminology or the time, but also the art of technical program management,” General Hamel said. 

“We’re going to make sure that everyone starts once again by assuming accountability all the way … to the individual projects engineers.”

Undersecretary of the Air Force Dr. Ronald Sega spoke of the need to get back to basics for space acquisition. His comments included discussion of developing people, horizontally integrating within the space community, and managing space as an enterprise with a combined acquisition strategy. 

(Courtesy of Air Force Space Command News Service)



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