The Space Systems Command is the acquisitions branch of the United States Space Force. The Space Force’s chief is in charge of a distinct Space Rapid Capabilities Office, which procures classified systems. Space procurement is likewise overseen by the Missile Defense Agency as well as the Space Development Agency. Many satellite programs are also performed in collaboration with National Reconnaissance Office, which is a US intelligence organization.
Even though space procurements are managed by a variety of organizations, the intelligence community and the Space Force have formed a coordinating group to ensure “unity of effort,” according to Lieutenant General Michael Guetlein, who serves as the commander of Space Systems Command, who spoke on a panel at the Air Space & Cyber conference of Air Force Association on September 21.
General John “Jay” Raymond, the chief of the United States Space Force, has urged the service to acquire new technology more quickly in order to remain ahead of competitors such as China. “Our methods are ancient, and they are slowing us down,” Guetlein explained.
In recent years, the number of entities “with a finger in the space acquisition pot has really expanded, not shrunk,” he said. “And we need coordination and cooperation to get after the danger, to get the innovation and flexibility we need, and that’s basically what we’ve been attempting to drive.”
According to Guetlein, a “program integration council” chaired by Raymond and Chris Scolese, the NRO Director brings together officials from all space purchase agencies as well as the organizations that use the equipment – Space Operations Command and US Space Command. This cooperation “allows us to go after the threat,” he explained.
When Air Force Department nominates — and the Senate approves — an assistant secretary in charge of Air Force for space acquisition as well as integration, who is going to be civilian acquisition executive for the space projects, another shift in the structure of space acquisition will occur soon. Candidates are being vetted, according to Secretary Frank Kendall, and a nomination might be announced soon.
The military deputy at the new position is Brig. Gen. Steve Whitney. According to him, Congress mandated that the Air Force establish an executive office that deals with space acquisition by October 2022. Kendall revealed last month that he had merged a handful of existing acquisition divisions on the headquarter staff to form the Space Acquisition Executive Office or SAF SQ.
Whitney explained, “This is a demonstrating resolve that we not only desire to do this but that we’re striving to do it faster and that we’ll be ready when there’s a nominee for that service acquisition executive.”
“We’re using some basic system engineering concepts to find out what roles we should have, from science and technology through architecture, capability delivery, and overall integration. As a result, we’re planning to set up an office with three directorates focused around those pieces.”