- Press Release
- Oct 4, 2022
Space and Missile Systems Center commander retires
The Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) commander has retired today, Jul. 27, in a ceremony at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Ca.
Lt. Gen. John F. Thompson, who is the longest serving three-star commander for SMC, has retired after an illustrious 36-year career with the U.S. Air Force, having served in various roles leading defense acquisition programs, strategic systems and lifecycle management.
Lt. Gen. Thompson’s exemplary career has made the nation safer, stronger and better secured against an increasingly contested space environment, and earned the well-deserved opportunity to enjoy this next chapter in his life. As the commander of SMC, he led more than 6,300 military, government service and contract employees nationwide, and oversaw an annual budget of $9 billion, which accounts for 85 percent of the nation’s space budget.
In the last 18 months, Lt. Gen. Thompson tirelessly led the groundwork for the stand-up 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. Having completed his four-year tour as the SMC commander, his retirement will not affect the timeline of the SSC stand-up – which is a complex process, requiring activities and approvals at the highest echelons before implementation.
Brig. Gen. D. Jason Cothern, the current vice commander of SMC, will serve as the SMC commander while the center awaits a confirmation of a 3-star general officer.
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.