By James Spellman, Jr., Space and Missile Systems Public Affairs
/ Published August 20, 2015
KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- At the beginning of the 1979 film, The Double McGuffin starring Ernest Borgnine and George Kennedy, narrator Orson Welles informs the movie audience a McGuffin is an object that serves as the focal point of the plot in the thriller genre. This particular film had two such objects -- a suitcase of money and a severed hand - leading to the prevention of a political assassination.
Meanwhile, back at the Space and Missile Systems Center . . . nothing dramatic as a movie plot took place. Instead, a couple of leadership changes occurred Aug. 17 within two of SMC's Directorates: the Operationally Responsive Space Office and the Advanced Systems and Development Directorate, both located at Kirtland AFB.
Col. John S.R. Anttonen assumed command as director of the Advanced Systems and Development Directorate and commander of SMC's Detachment 1 at Kirtland in an assumption of command ceremony presided over by Maj. Gen. Robert McMurry, SMC's vice commander. The AD Directorate's mission is to deliver responsive space capabilities to users across the National Security Space community and conduct developmental planning, science and technology, and pre-systems acquisition for SMC, headquartered at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif.
Anttonen leads a combined team of more than 740 military, government civilians, and contractors in four geographically separated units responsible for development, acquisition, demonstration, launch, test and operations of Department of Defense and civil space systems. Prior to assuming his new position, Anttonen was the director of the Operationally Responsive Space Office at Kirtland, overseeing the development, demonstration, and fielding of space capabilities focused on timely satisfaction of joint force commanders' needs.
"Ask yourself: If you aren't trying to change the world, then why are you doing what you are doing? Changing the way space operations is performed now, five years from now, and well into the future is what this directorate is all about," said Anttonen in his remarks upon assuming command of SMC/AD. "My goal is to instill this culture and get each and every person to "Think" -- especially about their future and how he/she can revolutionize space operations."
Filling the spot freshly vacated by Anttonen during a change of command ceremony an hour earlier and also presided over by General McMurry is Col. Shahnaz Punjani as the new director of the Operationally Responsive Space Office.
"I've been aware of ORS since its infancy," said Punjani in her remarks to the audience. "I'm just ecstatic to be a part of this office with its current path on future programs and role in space. The ORS Office is a proactive step to adapt space capabilities to changing national security requirements and to be an agent for change across the community."
The ORS Office works with the broader space community to provide assured space power focused on timely satisfaction of Joint Force Commanders' needs. The end state of the ORS concept is the ability to address emerging, persistent and/or unanticipated needs through timely augmentation, reconstitution and exploitation of space force enhancement, space control and space support capabilities.
ORS is taking a new approach to risk and mission assurance to rapidly deploy capabilities that are good enough to satisfy warfighter needs across the entire spectrum of operations, from peacetime through conflict.
Prior to taking command of ORS, Punjani served as commander of the 30th Launch Group, 30th Space Wing, Air Force Space Command at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. In this role, she was responsible for launch processing mission assurance and integration for the DOD, Air Force, National Reconnaissance Office, Missile Defense Agency, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Both officers bring a wealth of experience and unique talents and skill sets to their respective new directorates.
Anttonen was commissioned in 1989 through the Air Force ROTC program at Oregon State University where he studied Mechanical Engineering. During his career, Anttonen served in a variety of space research and development positions including Propulsion Development, Test Resource Management, Military Spaceplane Technology Development, DARPA Deputy Program Manager for the Falcon Spacelift Program and at the National Reconnaissance Office.
He is a graduate of the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, where he earned a Doctorate in Aeronautical Engineering with a dissertation entitled "Techniques for Reduced Order Modeling of Aeroelastic Structures with Deforming Grids." In 2007, he attended the prestigious Industrial College of the Armed Forces in Washington, D.C. where he earned Distinguished Graduate honors and the Department of Homeland Security award for Excellence in Research for his paper entitled "The Three Computer War."
Anttonen deployed twice as a United Nations Ballistic Missile Expert for Arms Control to Iraq. Additionally, he deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom serving in the Office of Security Assistance, Logistics in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Punjani received her commission from the Air Force ROTC program at Pennsylvania State University in May 1991 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering. She holds a Master of Science in Aeronautical Engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio and a Master of Science degree from the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell AFB, Ala. She graduated from the Air Force Test Pilot School's Flight Test Engineer Course in 1999.
Punjani is a career acquisition officer with assignments at the research laboratory, flight test center, program office, and Air Staff levels. Her experience includes chemical defense systems; hypersonic propulsion technology; aircraft and weapons flight test; Air Force programming and budgeting; test and evaluation of demonstration satellites; launch system telemetry relay; and acquisition education. Punjani is Level III certified in Systems Planning, Research, Development, and Engineering, Test and Evaluation and Program Management.
"These two organizations -- SMC/ORS and SMC/AD -- are as important as ever," said McMurry in reflecting on his presiding over the two ceremonies and changes in leadership. "The nation needs rapid, operationally relevant, and robust solutions to space mission challenges more than ever. Col. Punjani and Col. Anttonen are exactly the right people to lead the way."