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SMC commander declares 2006 ‘Rebirth of SMC’

LOS ANGELES -- Lt. Gen. Michael Hamel, Space and Missile Systems Center Commander, reminded listeners of the partnership between SMC and The Aerospace Corporation during his speech at a Speakers Forum here Feb. 16.

LOS ANGELES -- Lt. Gen. Michael Hamel, Space and Missile Systems Center Commander, reminded listeners of the partnership between SMC and The Aerospace Corporation during his speech at a Speakers Forum here Feb. 16.

LOS ANGELES -- Stressing processes, partnerships and people, Space and Missile Systems Center Commander Lt. Gen. Michael Hamel told a group of approximately 100 of The Aerospace Corporation’s employees that they play a vital role in the “rebirth of SMC” and continued mission success. 

The general spoke Feb. 16 as part of The Aerospace Corporation’s Speakers Forum series.

The general started his speech by telling about the recent “report card” SMC gave to Aerospace. The SMC space program office directors and others who work day-to-day with Aerospace gave the corporation a 99.5 out of 100 percent. Inputs were received from 26 organizations, representing 95 percent of the center.

“That’s a pretty good rating,” General Hamel said.

While close to perfect, he noted that there is always room for continued improvement. The general has declared 2006 the year of the “rebirth of SMC,” and this year Air Force leadership has challenged SMC to become a Department of Defense model for space acquisition.

“Every day I’m mindful that SMC is the birthplace of military space,” General Hamel said. “This is where it all started.”

SMC has shaped military space for 50 years and “we have the opportunity and obligation to shape the next half century,” he said.

One of the ways to shape military space is getting back to basics when it comes to processes. During the 1990s, acquisition reform initiatives and a series of launch failures caused loss of mission capability and decline in organizational creditability, he said.

“This is not a business where you get two chances to get it right,” General Hamel said. “We have the obligation to provide capabilities to the warfighter.”

New Air Force leadership, Quadrennial Defense Review, budget issues and the nation being at war impact the way SMC does business, he said.

“What’s our role? We need to stay laser-focused on what we deliver to the warfighter,” General Hamel said.

The general stressed the need for better systems engineering, mission assurance, parts and process controls, military standards and specifications, and cost estimates. He said he was confident that SMC was doing that together with Aerospace.

The space business is “a team sport,” General Hamel said. It takes a team with standard processes, mutual trust, and a system of checks and balances to get the job done, he said.

During the 1990s, a downsizing of the workforce eliminated whole sets of skills, he said. The amount of work went up while personnel numbers went down. More pressure to accomplish the mission was placed on Aerospace and contractors. According to the general, Aerospace provides a technical conscience and continuity.

According to General Hamel, The Aerospace Corporation workforce remains “constant, sage and trusted counsel.”

SMC is reorganizing to better integrate programs and to get away from stovepipe organizations of individual program offices.

“What we do different is that we address the full spectrum (of military space),” General Hamel said. “Each program has importance.”

During the speech the general provided brief Space Based Infrared Radar Systems Program Office and Global Positioning Satellite Systems Joint Program Office updates and spoke about the current move to the Systems Acquisition Management Support Complex.

General Hamel concluded his remarks by saying there is no place he would rather be than at SMC. He said the right people are here to accomplish the mission, and it only works if SMC and The Aerospace Corporation work closely together.