Captain Benjamin C. Szutar, United States Air Force

2013 U.S. Missile Defender of the Year

Captain Benjamin C. Szutar is the Chief, Plans and Programs for the 460th Operations Support Squadron, Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado.

Captain Szutar was born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, on 19 April 1983. He attended Crestwood High School, graduating in June 2001. He lettered each year in academics and marching band. He served as president of the school television station, science club, Students Against Drunk Driving, and marching band. After graduating from high school, Captain Szutar earned his Undergraduate Degree in Aerospace Engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Shortly thereafter, he commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force on 5 May 2006. He was assigned to the 564th Missile Squadron, Malmstrom Air Force Base Montana, where he fulfilled the May 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty by shutting down 50 Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and 5 Launch Control Facilities. Following the shutdown, Capt Szutar was transferred to the 490th Missile Squadron, where he was promoted to First Lieutenant and appointed Deputy Flight Commander.

Capt Szutar continued his missile career as a Crew Commander, Alternate Command Post and Deputy Missile Combat Crew Instructor for the 341st Operations Support Squadron. During his time in Global Strike Command he received his Graduate Degree in Aeronautical Sciences-Space Operations Management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Captain Szutar entered the space community in October 2010, and since arriving at the 2d Space Warning Squadron, Buckley AFB, Colorado, he has certified in the $17.6-billion Space Based Infra-Red System. As Flight Commander, he led the Air Force Space Command’s largest crew thorough Operations ODYSSEY DAWN and UNIFIED PROTECTOR. The crew went on to receive several accolades: the 460 OG won the 2011 Lt Gen Claire Chennault Trophy as the #1 Operations Group in 14 AF; the first AFSPC/IG ORI “Outstanding” rating in operations in 6 years; and the 2d Space Warning Squadron’s Crew of the Year. After this assignment, Captain Szutar was reassigned to the 460th Operations Support Squadron as Chief, Plans and Programs. As Commander, Plans and Programs Flight, he was the liaison officer for the Operations Group to the Intelligence Community, the Missile Defense Agency, and the Distributed Mission Operations Center. He led five Air Combat Command VIRTUAL FLAG exercises, implementing a no-cost solution that doubled the complexity of the event while adding 50% more training man-hours for the 460th Space Wing, leading to his selection as the 2012 Operations Group “Line Instructor of the Year.” Captain Szutar also served as the Space-Based Infra-Red System test lead for the $115-billion Ballistic Missile Defense System, participating in seven Missile Intercept flight tests leading to nine successful kills.

Defenders of the Year