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Procurement organizations in the Space Force will undergo changes in the near future

The Pentagon will employ a senior procurement executive who will be in charge of the space programs for the first-time next year, as authorized by Congress. According to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, a candidate for the job of Air Force’s assistant secretary for the space acquisition as well as integration has been chosen and is being reviewed by the White House. The Senate must also vote to confirm the nominee.

Kendall believes that having a senior commander in control of military space procurement is critical as the Space Force seeks to update satellites and other systems that were established decades ago, as well as purchase advanced technology to compete with Russia and China. Kendall said one of the new assistant secretary’s first responsibilities will be to monitor changes in the procurement enterprise of the Space Force.

He remarked, “We’ll be looking at the best method to restructure the organization.” One shift on the horizon is the handover of the SDA (Space Development Agency) to Space Force. SDA is presently a Defense Department entity, but in the fall of 2022, it will be transferred to Space Force. Kendall stated he had been working with Heidi Shyu, the undersecretary of the defense for both research and engineering, who presently controls the SDA, on the details regarding the transfer. A reorganization of the SSC (Space Systems Command), which creates and procures satellites, purchases space launch services, and other technology for the US military, is also on the table.

The SSC (Space Systems Command) was originally named SMC (Space and Missile Systems Center) and has a $9 billion yearly budget and a staff of around 6,300 civilian, military, and contractor people. The Space Force dubbed it SSC in August, and the Pentagon nominated Lieutenant General Michael Guetlein to head it. The upcoming restructuring will undo improvements made by outgoing SMC commander Lt. Lieutenant General John Thompson as part of the SMC 2.0 effort, which began in 2018 and ended in late 2019.

Thompson reorganized SMC program offices, also referred as mission area directorates, which were in charge of the development and purchase of communications satellites, GPS satellites, remote sensing satellites, as well as other systems. Those directorates were dissolved in SMC 2.0, and projects were restructured under four organizations: a production corps, a development corps, an enterprise corps (for both product support and launch services), and an atlas corps (to supervise initiatives in their early stages) (for talent and workforce management). Thompson stated that previous mission directorates worked in silos and that SMC was going to benefit from the more horizontal structure that allowed for technology sharing and collaboration.