Daily Breeze

April 11, 2005

Hamel nominated to head space center
Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael A. Hamel would command the Space and Missiles Systems Center at the El Segundo base.

By Copley News Service

WASHINGTON -- Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael A. Hamel, whose career has included three stints at Los Angeles Air Force Base, has been nominated to command the Space and Missiles Systems Center at the El Segundo base, the Pentagon announced Thursday.

Hamel, whose rank would be elevated to lieutenant general if the U.S. Senate approves his nomination, has spent most of his 32-year career in missile and space programs.

He would relieve Lt. Gen. Brian Arnold, who has been commander of the center since 2001. Arnold is scheduled to retire July 1.

Hamel, who was unavailable for comment, serves as commander of the 14th Air Force, a major element of the Air Force Space Command at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The 14th traces its history back to the famous "Flying Tigers," a group of American volunteers who flew P-40 fighters with shark's teeth painted on their noses, against superior Japanese forces in China before the United States entered World War II.

The command now conducts missile launches, controls more than 100 military satellites -- including spy craft that can spot missile launches virtually anywhere in the world -- and helps train Air Force space operations personnel.

Hamel's first assignment on graduation from the Air Force Academy in 1972 was as staff development planner for Space and Missile Systems at the Los Angeles base.

He served at the base again in 1980-86 as a project manager and manned spacecraft engineer, then returned as vice commander of the systems center in 1998-99.

As vice commander, he managed the Air Force's space requirements and acquisition programs, which are major functions of the center.

Other duties have included chief of the plans division and director of requirements at the Air Force Space Command headquarters, military adviser to then-Vice President Al Gore and as director of space operations and integration at Air Force headquarters just prior to assuming his current command.

In addition to the bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineer he received from the Air Force Academy, Hamel earned a master of business administration degree from California State University, Dominguez Hills, in 1974.