Members of the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) and the 61st Air Base Group were joined by Department of Defense senior leaders and community partners to celebrate the retirement of Lt. Gen. John F. Thompson during a ceremony at Los Angeles Air Force Base.
Thompson, who is the longest serving three-star commander for SMC, retired after an illustrious 36-year career with the U.S. Air Force. He has served in various roles leading defense acquisition programs, strategic systems and lifecycle management programs.
After graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1984, Thompson has served in a variety of scientific, acquisition and logistics-oriented capacities, including staff assignments at Air Force Systems Command, Air Force Material Command and in the office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition.
The ceremony, which was officiated by Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, Chief of Space Operations for the U.S. Space Force, highlighted Thompson’s accomplishments and his contributions to the U.S. Air and Space Forces.
“When I was thinking of what to say during today’s ceremony, I kept coming back to the immense impact this officer has had on our nation and on our U.S. Air and Space Forces,” said Raymond. “Whatever we do in support of the Department of Defense, it starts with developing and acquiring space capabilities. All of that is done here, under the stellar leadership of JT. He has postured us to deter and win with our competitors as outlined in the National Defense Strategy. These last four years have been the most consequential in the history of space, arguably comparable to those first years under Gen. Bernard Schriever. If you look at what has happened since JT took command, he has completely reorganized SMC, has been instrumental in establishing the U.S. Space Force, and now, he has planned the establishment of the Space Systems Command.”
Thompson expressed pride in the acquisition community, and gratitude for the wingmen who have helped along the way.
“I am so proud of how far we’ve grown together,” he said. “I don’t know how we find leaders and wingmen like Chief Willie Frazier, Lisa Arnold and Scott Myers…we’ve got to continue to have that leadership and great advice and counsel.“
As the commander of SMC, Thompson led more than 6,300 military, government service and contract employees nationwide, while overseeing an annual budget of $9 billion, which accounts for approximately 85 percent of the nation’s space budget.
“In this business, the people in the Department of Defense acquisition workforce are constantly striving to improve themselves, constantly striving to improve their processes, and constantly striving to build new organizations,” said Thompson. “To the men and women of SMC – you are responsible for how great our military is. I have appreciated that fact every single day over the last four years and I know Airmen and Guardians around the globe have as well.”
Over the last year, Thompson has laid the groundwork for the standup of the U.S. Space Force’s newest field command, Space Systems Command, which will lead the force in the development, delivery and acquisition of innovative space warfighting capabilities.
“Heading into this next chapter in space history, I look forward to the establishment and activation of the Space Systems Command and how that takes this organization, our processes and our people even further.”
Editor’s Note: Lt. Gen. John F. Thompson’s effective date of retirement is Aug. 1, 2021. SMC will move forward to pioneer, develop and deliver innovative space capabilities for our warfighters and allies in the contested space domain.