SMC’s Canopy Team welcomes USAF Academy 6X’s to U.S. Space Force mentoring event

  • Published
  • By U.S. Space Force Capt. Landon Ewers
  • SMC Enterprise Ground Services/ Canopy Collaborative Center

The Space and Missile Systems Center’s Canopy Team hosted the first-ever "USAFA 6X'r Welcome to USSF" event for soon-to-be U.S. Air Force Academy Guardian graduates at the Catalyst Campus on May 19, 2021, in Colorado Springs.

Canopy, a new SMC Cross-Mission Ground and Communications Enterprise, and Enterprise Ground Services collaboration center, hosted the event as part of its outreach effort. Canopy's focus is providing the education, tools, and environment necessary to enable enterprise success for the ground tactical command and control community. It offers a unique innovation ecosystem that enables rapid delivery and deployment of tactical and Cross-Mission Ground satellite operations C2 capabilities and technologies.

The event consisted of opening remarks, "speed mentoring" sessions, and an outdoor reception before departure. It provided a unique opportunity for 46 leaders across the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force to share their personal knowledge and experience, positively impacting the overall mission by enhancing professional and personal development for future Guardians and USSF leaders. This will be the second class of cadets from the Air Force Academy to commission into the Space Force upon graduation.

"This is not a destination, this is a journey, so you're going to have to question the status quo," said Lt. Gen. John F. Thompson, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center and program executive officer for space. "There's a lot of rules, but my advice to you is to not be afraid to question them."

In his remarks, Thompson covered the breakdown of the capabilities SMC brings to the fight, the importance of partnerships around the enterprise, the advantages provided by the commercialization of space, the threats from our adversaries, and the 6X career field.

“The only advantage we have over our adversaries is the innovation, the commercial market, risk-taking and we have got to take advantage of it,” said Thompson. "No matter what job you've got, it's important. We live, sleep, eat, and fight as a team."

He was followed by retired U.S. Air Force Col. Jason Lamb, technical director of SMC's Talent Management Team. During Lamb's keynote address, he provided cadets with a glimpse into the future of talent management in the USSF and the Guardian concepts.

After the speeches concluded, cadets broke into four different rooms and "speed mentoring" began. Cadets sat one-on-one with leaders for 10-minute sessions where they asked questions covering topics such as what to expect as a 6X in the Space Force, leadership advice, and expectations in the military.

Mentors included two flag officers, 17 distinguished visitors in the grades of NH-04, or Lt. Colonel and above, and 27 company-grade officers across SMC Cross-Mission Ground and Communications Enterprise, Product Support, U.S. Space Force Headquarters, Chief Technology Innovation Office, U.S. Air Force Academy, Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisitions, Space Operations Center’s Directorate of Strategic Plans, Programs, Requirements and Analysis, Air Force Research Laboratory’s Re-entry Vehicles, U.S. Transportation Command, SpaceCAMP, Space Delta 8, U.S. Space Command, and U.S. Space Force’s Test & Evaluation Combined Test Force.  At the end of each speed mentoring round, a bell rang, and the mentee moved on to the next mentor, allowing for different perspectives and experiences to be shared.

"The best thing was being able to talk to the Generals and leadership to find out their expectations of us," said Cadet First Class Anna Holder. "This was better than I expected it to be. I'm leaving pumped and excited to get to my first base and be a part of the Space Force culture."

The event concluded with closing remarks from Col. Jeffrey Greenwood, U. S. Space Force Liaison to the Air Force Academy. Greenwood said he hoped that doing something like this would show the cadets that their service cares about them.

"This was a great opportunity for them to sit down with people in their community, who have experienced it and lived it, and can talk about what life is going to be like in the Space Force," said Greenwood. "It's going to set them up for success."

Enterprise solutions are required to build resiliency in our ground and communications systems to prevail in any conflict that extends into space. Canopy provides an ecosystem to facilitate the integration, agility, innovation, and culture needed to create an enterprise through a unique combination of a Service Integration Lab as a Service, Schoolhouse Initiative, Collaboration spaces, and Outreach programs/events.