Under Secretary of the Air Force, Gina Ortiz Jones Visits SSC and Industry

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  • By 1st Lt Katelin Robinson

The advancements in technology influence how we operate in the world and affect society every day - whether it’s accessing your bank accounts, ordering groceries online, or figuring out the weather forecast to know what to wear. Although you may not think about it, satellites work daily to provide communication and information at a moment’s notice.

However, while clicks on mobile devices, navigation at your fingertips, and turning on your television with your remote, are nearly second nature, the growing threats in a domain that was once uncontested are increasing. 

Space Systems Command is the acquisition arm of the United States Space Force and the foundation for where space starts. It is home to a structure where Guardians are equipped to prevail and outpace the growing competition in the space domain. 

During her visit Oct. 11 to Space Systems Command, the Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones highlighted the essential role that SSC plays in the Department of the Air Force and our nation’s defense.

“When we think about the pacing challenge and the high-end fight, our ability to be successful, from our Airmen and Guardians but also the entire joint force, relies on the capabilities that are provided from space,” said Jones. “The more we can do to ensure resilience now through testing capabilities, to gaining confidence in them, is critical to ensuring we are as successful as we can be.”

As competition in this domain grows, the operational imperatives outlined by the Secretary of the Air Force pave the way to modernize the force structure and improve operational focus to defeat modern-day adversaries. 

According to Jones, SSC’s engagement with commercial industry to “understand what is out there and how it might be included in the force design, as well as the work being done with our partners and allies through foreign military sales” play a critical role in “increasing capacity and capability within our shared network.”

In discussing SSC’s efforts on how the command contributes to diversifying the workforce, Jones shared the importance of incorporating diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility efforts in the workplace.

“I am very supportive of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility efforts, not for the programs themselves but for what they mean,” Jones expressed. “Everyone can serve to their full potential and focus on the mission, bringing their full talents to the fight.”  

Resiliency doesn’t start and stop with space systems architecture, it begins with the mental fortitude, talent, and innovation of the Guardian-- operator, intelligence, cyber, engineer, acquisitionist-- who work in diverse teams, each bringing something new to the table to defend our country and thwart the threat.

“When we think about keeping the best and the brightest, we have to ensure we are investing in the right platforms but also investing in our people,” Jones said. “We as senior leaders owe anyone, with the courage to raise their right hand to support and defend the constitution, the very best to operate to their full potential.”

In working and executing the Secretary of the Air Forces’ seven operational imperatives, the first focused on building an effective and resilient space order of battle, cultivating the skills of today’s warfighter to effectively operate in current and future challenges are foundational for ensuring we have what we need when facing “our adversaries whose actions challenge our security, interests, and values,” Jones stated.  

 “We not only have to take care of our people but also ensure we are making smart decisions in our platforms when it comes to the space domain as well as what the entire DAF needs.”

Awareness of the threat is as fundamental as knowing how to tie one’s shoes, but staying ahead of the threat requires a culture of experts and unity of effort. 

“Some of the challenges we’re facing in space that we once thought were well into the future are here today,” said Brig. Gen. Jason Cothern, Space Systems Command, deputy commander. “As a result, our Guardians and members within the command are charged with staying alert and ready to deliver operationally relevant and resilient capabilities.”

According to Cothern, generating this readiness posture won’t result from an apathetic mindset – it requires deliberate action.

“We cannot afford to skimp on maintaining our readiness because our adversaries are not waiting around to see how we further our competitive edge,” Cothern said. “We need to be preparing, developing, innovating, collaborating, and delivering on all that we can now, so we can support the fight tonight and not see our adversaries outpace us later.”

As competition to excel in this domain grows, the operational imperatives outlined by the Secretary of the Air Force pave the way to modernize the force structure and improve operational focus to defeat modern-day adversaries