COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The U.S. Air Force is poised to restructure Space and Missile Systems Center —the service’s space acquisition arm — and reboot it as a more agile and innovative SMC 2.0 this fall.
During a Tuesday roundtable with reporters, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson laid out the first details of the reorg, which will involve removing stovepipes among organizations and designating leaders who will be able to look out among programs and come up with ways to drive commonality and speed.
“It will have a production corps. It will have a development corps. It will have an architect,” she said. “It will have offices that will focus on innovation and another that focuses on partnerships. All of this intended to both accelerate what we buy, but also to buy things more smartly, and that new structure will reach initial operating capability in October of this year.”
One of the biggest and most important changes is the establishment of an “office of the senior architect” responsible for synchronizing efforts across SMC.
“One of the reasons that the internet works is because it has standards and it enables things to communicate with other things,” Wilson said. “If speed matters, we need to be thinking about all of the things, all of the activities that are going on in space and making sure we have standards, things to rapidly connect, or even things like standards for a common bus so you can plug and play a lot more quickly.”
Other offices will similarly ensure production and development efforts remain in sync with each other, and that effective technologies or production processes that are working for one program are farmed out to other programs that could benefit.
SMC is already in the process of hiring the portfolio architect, its commander Lt. Gen John Thompson said Thursday morning.
“We’ve also hired an organizational design agent and established a full-up tiger team of SMC personnel and others of our partners to work on how we actually do this,” he said, adding that the center still has much work to do before the initial operational capability of SMC 2.0 on Oct. 1.
The reorg will also involve creating an innovation office that can focus on emerging and pioneering technologies, which will free up program managers to concentrate their efforts on their own program.
In addition, SMC will add an office dedicated to working with allies and partner nations on space programs.
“We had a bilateral meeting just this morning with Japan, and people from Space and Missile Systems Center are going over there to talk about the specific parameters of an American node on a Japanese satellite,” Wilson said. “Those kind of relationships need to be stewarded systematically over time.”
Valerie Insinna was Defense News' air warfare reporter. Beforehand, she worked the Navy and congressional beats for Defense Daily, which followed almost three years as a staff writer for National Defense Magazine. Prior to that, she worked as an editorial assistant for the Tokyo Shimbun’s Washington bureau.