Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) has assumed responsibility for procuring the Pentagon’s commercial satellite communications, a role that has until now been handled by the Defense Information Systems Agency.
With the Dec. 12 transfer of responsibility, AFSPC now oversees the acquisition of nearly all military and commercial SATCOM assets for the Defense Department, the command said in a Wednesday press release.
The move reflects language included in the fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It is expected to allow the command to manage the DoD’s SATCOM portfolio “as an enterprise,” and help integrate delivery of all related services in the future, the release said.
“The SATCOM mission is critical to the success of our joint warfighters on the battlefield, and requirements for this capability continue to increase,” said Gen. Jay Raymond, AFSPC and Joint Force Space Component Commander in the release. “The new acquisition authority better integrates our military and private SATCOM sectors, ensuring our warfighters have the communications capabilities they need to fight and win.”
The vision is to allow users to more readily connect among the varied satellite constellations and service providers, Raymond added. Air Force Space Command and DISA have worked together over the past year to ensure a “smooth” transfer of responsibilities.
The transfer of responsibility is not wholly complete yet, as DISA retains administrative control of the 100-plus personnel currently handling the commercial SATCOM mission, AFSPC said. Those 36 civilian and military members and 70 support contractors will be under operational control of the command, but a formal transfer will occur over the next year and is expected to be completed by October 2019. AFSPC is scheduled to achieve full operational capability by October 2020.
“The phased approach from initial to full operational capability maintains the expertise of the personnel in DISA’s SATCOM organizations today and limits impact to personnel and operations during the transition,” the command said.