New GP director takes charge of "Green Monster"
By James Spellman, Jr., Space and Missile Systems Center Public Affairs
/ Published July 08, 2015
LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Col. Steven Whitney accepted the reins of responsibility as incoming director of the Global Positioning Systems Directorate from Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, presiding official and commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center during a change of leadership ceremony today in the Gordon Conference Center. He succeeds Brig. Gen. William Cooley, the outgoing director, who leaves for his new assignment at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama with the Missile Defense Agency after leading the GP Directorate at SMC for the past two years.
Although the ceremony itself was brief and a departure from the typical pomp and circumstance normally reserved for a change of command ceremony, the significance of the event was not lost on the audience and invited guests.
"There is nothing we do here at SMC that is as ubiquitous, that affects as many people around the world as GPS," said Greaves. "Maintaining GPS as the world's gold standard for position, navigation and timing requires an all-star team and all-star leaders, so it is no surprise that in his time here, Bill has led the 'Green Monsters' (mascot of the GP Directorate) to some amazing accomplishments."
Greaves explained how the Air Force has been talking about GPS modernization "since the 1990's, but last year, we started broadcasting the first new GPS navigation signals in 37 years - three years ahead of schedule."
"The impact of GPS is huge," Greaves said. "The new civilian signals will increase accuracy by up to 21 percent for over one billion customers. The new modernized military signals will be essential to American and allied warfighters for decades to come."
According to Greaves, an accomplishment like that is "not just about flipping a switch. It requires coordinated space, ground and user efforts, and the Green Monsters do it all. In the past couple of years, the space team has charged through the most aggressive launch campaign since 1993, including launching four satellites in nine months last year."
After thanking his GP leadership team, staff and family for their support during his two-year tenure, General Cooley in his final outgoing remarks saluted the Directorate for embracing the theme of GPS as the "gold standard" of global navigation satellite systems.
"It's an aspirational goal, one that requires continuous improvement," Cooley said. "Other program offices may view this with cynicism because all programs have strengths and weaknesses, but it is taking on the challenge to be as good as we can that matters."
Cooley cited the team effort it took during his tenure to set a high standard for everything, from acquisition strategies to turning taskers and Public Affairs responses to the news media.
"I'm not sure if we achieved it, as 'Gold Standard Program Office' is intentionally not well defined," said Cooley. "But I'm very proud of the quality and progress we made over the past two years, and whether I retire in 10 or 20 years from now, when I'm reflecting on what I was most proud of in my career, modernizing GPS will be at the top of my list."
"Wow! General Cooley, you were right," said Col. Whitney in his opening remarks after taking command of the GP Directorate. "This is pretty cool!"
Singling out members of his former User Equipment Division of the GPS Directorate at SMC "to thank you for allowing me to be a part of your lives and serve you - it means more to me than you will ever know," Whitney turned his attention to the members of the Green Monster.
"You are an incredibly talented group of individuals and I am inspired by your dedication to the mission and the passion you show each and every day," Whitney said. "We have a great many challenges ahead of us, but I am confident that together, we can meet these and not only succeed, but do so with the style and grace befitting the 'Gold Standard'. I'm excited to continue to be part of this team and I look forward to serving you as we move forward together."
The mission of the Global Positioning Systems Directorate is to acquire, deliver and sustain reliable GPS capabilities to America's warfighters, allies and civilian users. The GPS Directorate is a joint service effort directed by the U.S. Air Force and managed by Air Force Space Command's Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. The directorate is the Department of Defense acquisition office for developing and producing GPS satellites, ground systems and military user equipment.