WASHINGTON — President Joe Bident has tapped the deputy director of the agency in charge of the nation’s spy satellites to run the U.S. Space Force’s new acquisitions command, where he would be in charge of procuring billions of dollars worth of satellites and supporting technologies.
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Maj. Gen. Michael Guetlein, deputy director of the National Reconnaissance Office, would take over Space Systems Command — a new field command that will develop, acquire, field and sustain space capabilities for the Space Force. He would also be promoted to lieutenant general.
At the NRO, the agency charged with designing, building and operating the country’s fleet of intelligence satellites, Guetlein assists the director in managing NRO operations and serves as the commander of the its Space Force Element, overseeing all Space Force personnel assigned to the agency.
Headquartered at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Space Systems Command will replace the Space and Missile Systems Center as the service’s main acquisition organization. Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond has stated that SSC will be established once a commander is approved by Congress — presumably by the end of the summer. If approved, Guetlein will be at the forefront of the Space Force’s efforts to reform and unify space acquisitions, which have come under fire from lawmakers.
The current commander of SMC is Lt. Gen. John Thompson.
Guetlein has served in a number of roles within the national security space community in his 30-year military career, including as the deputy program manager of the Space-Based Infrared System Ground Segment, director of Missile Warning Systems and senior material leader of the Space-Based Infrared System Production Division. In 2014, he was promoted to director of the Remote Sensing Systems Directorate, where he was put in charge of a “$48 billion space systems portfolio of space-based missile warning and environmental monitoring systems.” In 2017 he became program executive for programs and integration of the Missile Defense Agency, where he oversaw a public and classified portfolio of programs valued at more than $2.5 billion.
In July 2019, he became deputy director of the NRO, where he was subsequently promoted to major general.
Nathan Strout covers space, unmanned and intelligence systems for C4ISRNET.