“The nation is at a crossroads; the Cold War has ended, the Global War on Terror will be a lengthy struggle … the path we choose will have lasting effects...”
Space and Missile Systems Center commander Lt. Gen. Mike Hamel
E-mail this page
HILL Air Force Base, Utah –“The nation is at a crossroads; the Cold War has ended, the Global War on Terror will be a lengthy struggle … the path we choose will have lasting effects.”
These words on the future challenges of U.S. national security—spoken by Space and Missile Systems Center commander Lt. Gen. Mike Hamel at the Strategic and Tactical Missile Systems Conference in January—set the tone for his ICBM Development Offsite held here March 24.
The meeting, which brought together the brightest minds of current and past missile system programs, was organized to help develop strategies on sustaining fielded forces while modernizing systems and re-energizing ICBM development. It focused on the current state of the acquisition community and the challenges it will face in the coming decades.
Attendees included retired leaders such as Gen. Tom Moorman, former Air Force vice chief of staff, Lt. Gens. Ed Barry and Al Casey, former Space Division commanders, and Lt. Gen. Jay Kelly, former vice commander of Space Command. Also, current senior leaders from Air Force Space Command included the Director of Strategic Plans and Programs Maj. Gen. Mark Shackelford and 20th Air Force Commander Brig. Gen. Tom Deppe.
“We’re not unique,” said General Hamel, of the challenge. “This road has been traveled before. In the ‘50s and ‘60s General (Bernard) Schriever accomplished the seemingly impossible.” At the time the U.S. was responding to Russia’s Sputnik success --- within five years, however, Schriever had Minuteman Missiles in silos and on alert.
General Schriever pioneered the development of the nation's intercontinental ballistic missile and served as the first commander of the Western Development Division (later the Ballistic Missile Division) in Inglewood, Calif., beginning in 1954. Now, General Hamel wants to ensure U.S. strategic missile capabilities stay ahead of the power curve.
“We can’t do everything,” said General Hamel, referring to limits based on fiscal restraints, “and it (the process) won’t happen overnight, but we’re leading the redevelopment of foundational capabilities – technologies, concept development, demonstrations, systems engineering skills—for future ICBMs.
“The ICBM Systems Wing (at Hill AFB) is doing an outstanding job maintaining the Minuteman III weapon system and may be called on to do that through 2020 and beyond,” said General Hamel. “And standardizing systems engineering and program management processes across the space and missile enterprise are imperative for its success.”
Current and former members of the missile community agreed on several areas of focus during the conference that included:
1) retain a skilled ICBM work force, as well as a program to sustain and evolve Minuteman IIIs, which reduces total cost of ownership;
2) AFSPC maintains its lead in the nuclear deterrent mission;
3) aggressively pursue a Prompt Global Strike capability to provide the nation’s leaders with additional options to project U.S. military power; and
4) invest in technology for future systems that can also benefit sustainment programs.
“Advanced development work is where the interest is and where the young talent goes,” said Col. Robert Shofner, commander of the 526th ICBMSW. “We simply must continue to attract new talent to the ICBM development community through advanced development.”
“This was a great success,” said Col. Jeff Caton, 526th Acquisition Group commander. “The chance to exchange ideas and embrace the wisdom from the past will help prepare the ICBM development community for the future.”