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USSPACECOM makes history with first change of command

By U.S. Space Command Public Affairs U.S. Space Command Public Affairs

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In another historic first, U.S. Space Command held its first change of command ceremony today.

U.S. Army Gen. James H. “Jim” Dickinson assumed command of USSPACECOM from U.S. Space Force Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, who was dual-hatted as the Space Force Chief of Space Operations and commander of USSPACECOM. 

Dickinson assumed duties as USSPACECOM's deputy commander — the 11th and newest Combatant Command — in December of 2019. He previously served as the commander of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command and Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense.

“While we are standing up a separate and independent Space Force, we know that this enterprise is an inherently joint endeavor with our entire military relying heavily on the capabilities integral to the space domain," said Dr. Mark T. Esper, Secretary of Defense, who presided over the change of command ceremony. In the past year, we have installed an Air Force officer, and its first Space Force officer as the head of Space Command, and I am now thrilled to welcome its first Army officer at the helm. Gen. Dickinson takes charge during an important time in our nation’s space enterprise, and I know he possesses the expertise, character and leadership to guide the command into the future.” 

After assuming command, Dickinson reiterated the importance of space operations to meet the demands of the National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy and Defense Space Strategy with the intent to compete, deter and win. 

“Based on the Department of Defense alignment toward a space focus, we, as a nation, took bold steps toward protecting and defending our critical space capabilities by creating U.S. Space Command as a joint combatant command,” Dickinson said. “Space is a warfighting domain, not because we want it to be, but because our adversaries have seen the advantages that space has provided to our way of life and our way of war and they continue to seek ways to hold our space assets at risk.

“Our adversaries are weaponizing space as we recently saw in July and we will not stand by and allow that to happen,” he added. “Today, we stand postured and prepared to deter, and if necessary, defeat those threats.” 

During the ceremony, Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, provided remarks and presented Raymond the Defense Distinguished Service Medal.

“For the past year, one person — Gen. Raymond — has been in charge of not only the mission to organize, train and equip space forces, but also for executing space operations. A major global power must dominate space today and in the future, so we have separated these two roles to reflect how space operations fill such an important and substantive role in modern-day warfighting,” Milley said. “From this day forward, Gen. Raymond will focus all his efforts as the Chief of Space Operations for the Space Force and Gen. Dickinson, his right-hand for the past year, will step up to lead U.S. military operations in space.”  

Raymond relinquished command with a few parting words to the men and women of USSPACECOM.  

The directors, leaders, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Space professionals and civilians who make up USSPACECOM do so much for our nation, and I am proud of each and every one of you,” Raymond said. “Today, we stand postured and prepared to protect and defend the space domain for all peaceful space-faring nations. I am convinced that the joint space warfighters assigned to USSPACECOM under the steady hand of Jim Dickinson will ensure our nation is better prepared to compete, deter and win into the future.”

The USSPACECOM change of command ceremony took place days before its first birthday celebration. The command was established on Aug. 29, 2019, with Esper and Raymond watching over the President’s shoulder as he signed the order in a Rose Garden ceremony. 

Dickinson was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as USSPACECOM commander on Aug. 6, 2020. He is the first Army officer to assume this role. 

USSPACECOM is one of 11 unified commands under the Department of Defense. USSPACECOM conducts operations in, from and to space to deter conflict, and if necessary, defeat aggression, deliver space combat power for the Joint/Combined force and defend U.S. vital interests with allies and partners.