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U.S. Space Force establishes Space Systems Command in California

U.S. Space Force Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, chief of space operations, speaks to attendees during the Space Systems Command establishment ceremony at Los Angeles Air Force Base on Friday. Photo by Staff Sgt. Elijah Jackson/U.S. Space Force
U.S. Space Force Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, chief of space operations, speaks to attendees during the Space Systems Command establishment ceremony at Los Angeles Air Force Base on Friday. Photo by Staff Sgt. Elijah Jackson/U.S. Space Force

Aug. 16 (UPI) -- The U.S. Space Force has established Space Systems Command, its second of three field commands.

The ceremony to establish the Space Systems Command was held at Los Angeles Air Force Base in California, where the command is based, on Friday with Lt. Gen. Michael A. Guetlein, who received his third star at a promotion ceremony earlier in the day, assuming command.

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The SSC ceremony follows the first field command in the Space Force, Space Operations Command, or SpOC, being established last October and led by Gen. Jay Raymond.

The third command, Space Training and Readiness Command, or STARCOM, requires a two-star general. The branch has not announced its eventual location, though a temporary command has been set up at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado and it is expected to be established later this year.

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"America relies on space, and our strategic competitors are targeting space because of this reliance and the advantage space provides," Raymond said at the ceremony to establish the second command.

"To remain the world leader and secure that advantage, we must move faster than our adversaries. The nation, as well as our allies and partners around the world, are counting on this team to deliver," Raymond said.

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President Joe Biden nominated Guetlein, who previously served as deputy director of the National Reconnaissance Office, in July to lead the SSC.

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The SSC is responsible for developing and acquiring lethal and resilient space capabilities for warfighters to meet the demands of the National Defense Strategy. This includes developmental testing, production, launch and maintenance, along with oversight.

As commander, Guetlein will lead approximately 10,000 military and civilian personnel, overseeing the acquisition lifecycle of 90% of Space Force mission focus areas. The command is responsible for about 85% of the Pentagon's $11 billion investment in space capabilities.

"I am honored and humbled to be charged with the responsibility of leading Space Systems Command at this exciting time," Guetlein said at the ceremony. "I know just how much this team and this Nation are capable of, and I know we have only scratched the surface of our potential."

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On Friday, the Space Force also officially renamed the Space and Missile Systems Center, a long-time provider of premier space systems for national security and defense, as the Space Systems Command.

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"Space Systems Command is about continuing the culture shift away from being service providers to being warfighters and defending our way of life from, through and in space," Guetlin said.

He said the repurposing the SMC to the SSC is to remain "postured and empowered" as warfighting shifts over the next decade to include a range of new technology, some of dependent on Space Force efforts.

"It is up to Space Systems Command to counter the rising threat with game-changing capabilities," Guetlin said.

The SSC includes launch deltas, Vandenberg Space Force Base, Calif., and Patrick Space Force Base/Cape Canaveral, Fla., which have been realigned from the SpOC to the SSC.

At Vandenberg Space Force Base, the U.S. Air Force last week successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile.

At Cape Canaveral, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in early June launched cargo, including tiny squids, medical experiments and solar panels, to the International Space Station.

The SSC will serve as the primary Space Force conduit to the Air Force Research Laboratory and subordinate units performing space science and technology functions, according to the branch.

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