Bythewood takes helm of Remote Sensing Systems Directorate
By James Spellman, Jr, Space and Missile Systems Center
/ Published December 30, 2016
LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Col. Dennis Bythewood assumed leadership of the Remote Sensing Systems Directorate on Dec. 19, during a change of leadership ceremony in the Gordon Conference Center of the Schriever Space Complex. The event was presided over by Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, Space and Missile Systems Center commander, and Program Executive Officer for Space.
Bythewood is responsible for a $48 billion space systems portfolio within the RS Directorate and leads a program team of more than 14,000 government and contractor personnel. He oversees the development, deployment and sustainment of the nation’s space based infrared detection, targeting and tracking systems, as well as the sustaining and fielding of affordable space and terrestrial weather systems.
Brig. Gen. Michael Guetlein, the departing senior material leader of the RS Directorate, leaves SMC to become the program executive for programs and integration at the Missile Defense Agency in Huntsville, Alabama.
“This is a little bittersweet for me, but absolutely the perfect pick for MDA, the Air Force, and General Guetlein,” said Greaves in remarks to the audience, prior to pinning the Legion of Merit award with oak leaf cluster on Guetlein’s service coat, and presenting him with a miniature replica of the SMC Armillary sculpture in recognition of his leadership at the center. “I know Mike will knock it out of the park in this challenging position, just as he has done at the helm of RS, where ‘A Mike Guetlein Production’ became an everyday catchphrase around SMC.”
“It’s kind of hard to smile walking out of an organization like this, but it’s easier to smile knowing who’s coming in,” said Guetlein. “You guys are off to a new era. You built some world-class capabilities for the warfighter, and nobody does it like RS does it. It’s not often in your career that you get to pick your own replacement, and I could not have picked a finer leader for this organization going forward.”
Prior to assuming his new role at RS, Bythewood was commander of the 50th Operations Group at Schriever AFB, Colorado, where he was responsible for more than 1,000 military and Department of Defense civilian personnel serving in six squadrons and one detachment. These units perform around-the-clock global satellite operations on more than 60 satellites across diverse orbital regimes, providing warfighters and other users worldwide with position, navigation and timing capabilities; military satellite communications; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance products; and environmental and space situational awareness.
Bythewood received his commission in 1992 upon graduating from the University of Vermont with a degree in electrical engineering. His career has included numerous acquisitions and satellite operations positions in Air Force Space Command, Air Force Materiel Command and the National Reconnaissance Office.
“I’m honored and humbled by your trust in me taking over this important mission,” said Bythewood, who cited a quote from a former Air Force Chief of Staff to emphasize the important role RS plays in the nation’s security. “General Mark Welsh once said, ‘American airpower starts at 22,000 miles above the target’. Well, these are dynamic, incredible capabilities that we are going to be hard-pressed to push and deliver, but I know that we will. I look forward to leading you as we work hard to rise to the challenges ahead of us.”