The Air Force wants to put a three-star general and the top acquisition leader at Wright-Patterson in charge of its space and missile system center in Los Angeles, according to the Pentagon.
The personnel switch also would move the recently appointed leader of the Air Force Research Laboratory to commander of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, both of which are headquartered at Wright-Patterson.
Lt. Gen. John F. Thompson, AFLCMC commander, was nominated to become the commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center, the Defense Department said Friday. The center develops and acquires space capabilities.
“The Air Force is lead service for all military space activities,” said Loren B. Thompson, a senior defense analyst at the Virginia-based Lexington Institute. “Since space programs are a vital enabler of all U.S. forces, they must be managed by a top-notch leader.”
Maj. Gen. Robert D. McMurry, who in May became AFRL commander, was nominated to take over Thompson’s role at the Life Cycle Management Center. If approved, McMurry would gain a third star in a promotion to lieutenant general. He was vice commander of the Space and Missiles Systems Center before leading AFRL.
Thompson said the changes show the “domino effect” after the current head of the space and missile center, Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, was named this month to lead the Missile Defense Agency.
“The Air Force only has a handful of senior officers who have demonstrated the capacity to manage large technical organizations,” Thompson said in an email. “So when one moves up, others have to be shifted around to cover key jobs.”
The Life Cycle Management Center has the “cradle-to-grave” responsibility to develop, acquire and maintain aircraft, weapons, engines and electronics. The center employs about 26,000 military personnel and civilian employees around the world. Lt. Gen. Thompson took over AFLCMC in October 2014.
AFRL has roughly 10,000 personnel at nine directorates — four located at Wright-Patterson — and a more than $4 billion budget.
President Barack Obama nominated the officers for the new posts. The Senate must hold before the transformation is final. A timetable is not yet set, said Ann Stefanek, an Air Force spokeswoman at the Pentagon.
The generals were not at Wright-Patterson on Friday and unavailable for comment, base spokespersons said.
In a released statement, Thompson said: “I have had the opportunity to be assigned here at Wright-Patterson four different times throughout my career, and while I will miss the people here on-base, in the Miami Valley and at all of our over 60 AFLCMC operating locations across the globe, I know they will all continue to provide amazing community support and world-class weapon systems to our great nation.”
McMurry said he was “humbled” to lead AFLCMC.
“This is truly a great honor and I’m looking forward to working with all the great men and women in AFLCMC as we continue to acquire and support war-winning capabilities,” he added in a statement.
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