The Space and Missile Systems Center was part of a lively conversation between the commanders of Air Force Materiel Command and Air Force Space Command during the four-star forum at AFA’s Air & Space Conference in National Harbor, Md., on Wednesday. Although Air Force Materiel Command boss Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger has been “a strong proponent to bring SMC back into AFMC,” AFSPC chief Gen. John Hyten said he is “fundamentally opposed to moving [it] back” primarily for two reasons. First, half of the work SMC does is what the Air Force would consider operations, while the other half is engineering, said Hyten. “I don’t know how you break [those pieces] out of SMC,” he said. Second, when SMC was under AFMC until early last decade, the Air Force “had two space commands,” one at Los Angeles AFB, Calif., and the other at Peterson AFB, Colo., he said. That caused “huge problems in decision-making,” argued Hyten. During that time, the Air Force had a slew of launch failures, he reminded. The process “was broken horribly,” but now it’s “fixed and it works efficiently,” said Hyten.
Unlike nearly every other innovative technology throughout history, Maj. Gen. DeAnna M. Burt believes the space enterprise emerged backward. “Every other domain started with an entrepreneur who built something,” Burt, the special assistant to the Chief of Space Operations, told an audience at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference.