HomeNewsArticle Display

SMC's New Commander conducts first all-call

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- "It's wonderful to be here," said Lt. Gen. Tom Sheridan, the Space and Missile Systems Center's new commander. "You are a great team; you have a great mission and I'm very proud to be a part of it."

At his first all-call, General Sheridan talked about his priorities for SMC; our successes and challenges; and the recent Air Force senior leader resignations, their impact and lessons learned.

General Sheridan's first priorities are to spend time with the wings and understand what each wing is doing, as well as, the climate at SMC.

"I want to come around and spend time with your wing or your staff element and understand what you are doing. I want to understand what the issues are and how I can help," he said.

To understand our perspective of the environment here, the general plans to conduct an SMC climate survey.

"I am going to ask you to tell me what you are thinking about the climate around here," he said. "I need to understand what you think so I can understand the problems and how to help correct them."

General Sheridan stressed the importance of communicating at all levels.

"We really need to communicate among ourselves. I want to make sure the lines of communications to me and the rest of the senior staff are open. So if you've got something you've got to get to us, you've got a way of doing that. There are no road blocks."

In addition, he congratulated the center for its many successes in 2007 and 2008 including several consecutive successful military launches; the recent successful conclusion of the launch and early orbit portion of operations for the Communication Navigation Outage Forecasting System satellite; the delivery of more than $250 million in range capability in the past 24 months; 31 operational global positioning system spacecraft and more to come; the delivery and successful operation of the first WGS satellite; approval and support from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Department of Defense and Joint Staff to continue with the Transformational Satellite Communications System; and the launch of the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program's satellite 18 and initialization of it--just to name a few.

"Also across the board in Intercontinental Ballistic Missile acquisition, the progress on the environment system upgrades, the missile silos, and in the control centers," he said. "We are going to work very, very closely with Brig. Gen. Ed Thomas, the new commander of the Air Force Nuclear Warfare Center at Hill Air Force Base."

General Sheridan also discussed the recent resignations of the Secretary of the Air Force and Air Force Chief of Staff, its impact, lessons learned, and what we will need to do.

"The events of the last week have been very difficult for the Air Force," he said. "What triggered the resignations was the Admiral Donald Report, which was the resulting investigation Secretary of Defense Robert Gates ordered to review the situation involving nuclear weapons control, nuclear weapons handling, parts control and other related items."

The Secretary's concerns pointed to problems in our system, the general explained. He said that we must have complete physical control of all of our nuclear systems and our component parts at all times, and that we should use our inspection oversight programs and special handling processes in the nuclear business properly.

"The Secretary praised Mr. Winn and Gen. Moseley," he said. "This is not personally against either one of them. It's against problems in our system, and we are a part of our system. At all times, the Secretary of Defense believes that our nuclear force and our nuclear weapons are intact and ready to perform. And that our mission was never in jeopardy as far as our nuclear system. He didn't have any doubt."

Secretary Gates emphasized that accountability has to reach all the up the chain of command and all the way down the chain. He asked us each to take accountability--individually and collectively and tactically in all we do, explained General Sheridan.

"I think one of the things the nuclear incidents show us is that the system really does not take care of itself," he said. "We have to stay on top of what the system is doing. It really does need constant review and monitoring and attention to detail."

"In light of these events, there are ways of doing business I ask you to employ."

-Think differently about both your authorities and your responsibilities.

-Discuss your responsibilities with your supervisor, and make sure your supervisor and you are on the same page. Do this with a new degree of commitment.

- Add value to everything you do. Think positively--it helps.

"We also really need to work on taking care of each other," he said. "Everyone has a wingman and you should reach out to that wingman and help each other."

"SMC has a fabulous track record. Take pride in what you are accomplishing. You are the best in the world at what you do."