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SPACECOM Stand-Up: New Focus For Ongoing Missions

Posted by Theresa Hitchens on


Air Force Gen. John Raymond, newly confirmed Commander of Space Command, right.

WASHINGTON: The stand-up of the new version of Space Command (SPACECOM) will involve more than simply moving the desks from one office to another and changing the logo on the letterhead.

“A lot will be dependent on the development and implementation of Gen. [John] Raymond’s commander’s guidance,” says Jeff Renehan of LinQuest, the key contractor advising and assisting SPACECOM’s launch. “For example, the stand-up of the Joint Operations Center will have a bit of a different focus, as it will be primarily on the space warfighting mission — which is a good thing.” 

What is this new thing called the JOC? “The Joint Operations Center is the USSPACECOM equivalent to the strategic level operations centers at other combatant commands such as USNORTHCOM and USSTRATCOM,” explains Maj. William Russell, Air Force spokesman. “The JOC directly supports the Commander USSPACECOM by integrating critical space system information and status from subordinate units and their operations centers such as the Combined Space Operations Center at Vandenberg AFB and the National Space Defense Center at Schriever AFB.”

Renehan noted that another area of change might be in the “financial world,” where “the Integrated Priority List — the IPL — will have a different take in future, as some of it is a function of the commander’s intent.”

For those not up to speed on their military acronyms, the IPL is a list of a combatant commander’s top priority requirements. It identifies shortfalls in key programs that are adversely affecting the mission of the command, and includes funding recommendations that are supposed to be (although this does not always seem to take place) integrated into the Pentagon’s Planning, Programming and Budgeting (PPB) System.

LinQuest began work in April under a $9.2 million, sole-source contract to “hold the planks for the stand-up” of SPACECOM, working directly with Raymond and the various Joint Staff Directorates involved. “Our folks are assisting and helping him and his staff to start to organize and put together his guidance for the future of the command,” Renehan, the associate vice president for the company’s Operational Systems Support Solutions (OSSS) Group, told me today.

Renehan said LinQuest is “working across USSPACECOM’s directorates,” with the exception of personnel. “In J-0, we have the commander’s action group legislative liaison,” he said, as well as folks in the J-2 “helping set up the process for intelligence planning; and in the operations side in J-3, helping set up the Joint Operations Center.”

All that said, Renehan noted that because STRATCOM has been doing the mission, some of the creation of SPACECOM and the organization of its functions will be “just the natural evolution” of what already is ongoing, so “you’re not necessarily building everything from scratch.”

Meanwhile, AFSPC — which is charged to organize, train and equip space warfighters — providing “bandaids, bullets and beans” — will keep on doing its own mission set, he said.

Perhaps this perspective will be of some comfort to those who are concerned that, if the Senate has its way in the upcoming conference with the House on the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Raymond — as newly confirmed SPACECOM commander — also will be in charge of Air Force Space Command (AFSPC), as well as charged with starting up the new Space Force as its commander. 

“If in fact we start looking at Space Corps or Space Force, I would think there would have to be some decisions made to spread some of this [responsibility] out,” explains one former Air Force officer, because the Space Corps/Force, SPACECOM and AFSPC all have “disparate responsibilities.” He added, “The mission is different. …  Otherwise, it is a hell of a span of control.” (In Pentagonese, ‘span of control’ is the organizational principle that no one manager or commander should have too many subordinates reporting to them directly).

Version 2.0 of SPACECOM was officially established in February by a White House Executive Order. It shares the name of the old Space Command that existed between 1985 and 2002, when it was merged into STRATCOM in the post 9/11 Pentagon priorities revamp. A ribbon-cutting for the new command is expected sometime between now and the end of the year.

Renehan said that while LinQuest’s initial contract for helping get SPACECOM off the ground ends next April, they will bid on more such work to support Raymond and the command’s daily operations. “We will bid,” he said, noting that LinQuest in recent years has expanded its support of Air Force and DoD space operations. “As a company, we’ve got a really large pool of experience,” he said.

What do you think?