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AFSPC Commander Visits SMC, Addresses Base Personnel

General William Shelton, Air Force Space Command commander,  addresses base personnel at a commander’s call in the Gordon Conference Center, Feb. 1. The general visited the Space and Missile Systems Center for the first time since assuming command last month. (Photo by Lou Hernandez)

General William Shelton, Air Force Space Command commander, addresses base personnel at a commander’s call in the Gordon Conference Center, Feb. 1. The general visited the Space and Missile Systems Center for the first time since assuming command last month. (Photo by Lou Hernandez)

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Air Force Space Command's new commander, Gen. William Shelton, visited the Space and Missile Systems Center, Feb. 1, for the first time since assuming command last month.

Addressing base personnel at a commander's call in the Gordon Conference Center, the general started by speaking about the changes he's seen over the years within Space Command. While he has served in positions both in and out of the command since 1986, he noticed a lot of changes in the past two years.

The ICBM mission is gone and cyberspace is now part of the command, he said. General Shelton noted that he sees a tremendous synergy between the space and cyberspace missions.

General Shelton outlined his top three priorities - supporting the joint warfighter, gaining control of costs and normalizing cyberspace operations.

Supporting the joint warfighter is our "moral obligation," he said. The general then acknowledged the unique capabilities SMC brings to the joint warfighter.

When speaking about controlling costs, the general described space programs as the "poster child" for programs that are late and over cost.

While space programs generate "big bills," the general said that these are "must-pay bills." One of the ways he mentioned to potentially cut costs is to add new capabilities to current systems.

The general's third priority is to normalize cyberspace operations. He noted that space operations are relatively mature, and lessons learned from space will help cyberspace operations develop and mature.

A large portion of the commander's call addressed taking care of people, including developing the workforce. While retention is at an all time high, the general said that leadership and supervisors - especially first-level supervisors- need to continue to motivate, train and take care of their people.

General Shelton also discussed the increased suicide rate in the Air Force and the other Armed Forces. When Air Force personnel commit suicide, the service does an investigation similar to an accident investigation. The general said there appears to be no single cause factor to why someone commits suicide, but the common threads seem to be relationships and legal or financial issues. To help Airmen deal with the challenges in life, the general said new programs will be rolled out to give people the tools to help.

Another topic the general stressed is equality in the workplace. Gender or race won't be a barrier to a person reaching their full potential, he said.

"As a command, we'll be about equally bringing people up," the general said.

Additionally, the general spoke about the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law. While there are strong views on both ends of the spectrum, what matters is the law has been repealed, he said. Air Force personnel should expect to see more guidance and programs to get the entire workforce ready for the changes in policy.

Prior to concluding the commander's call, Gen. Shelton fielded several questions from the audience about system requirements, AFSPC's relationship with the National Reconnaissance Office, retention and force shaping.

In closing, the general said he's "excited about what we'll do together."