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News | Jan. 19, 2021

Acting SecDef, SEAC visit newest combatant command, recognize members

By Jennifer Thibault Joint Task Force-Space Defense Public Affairs

The honorable Christopher C. Miller, acting Secretary of Defense, and Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Ramón “CZ” Colón-López, visited with U.S. Space Command leaders Jan. 13 to discuss the combatant command’s missions and to recognize some of the members executing those missions at Schriever Air Force Base.

U.S. Army Gen. James Dickinson, USSPACECOM commander, and U.S. Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sgt. Scott Stalker, USSPACECOM command senior enlisted leader, welcomed Miller to the base along with Army Brig. Gen. Thomas James, Joint Task Force-Space Defense commander, and Space Force Chief Master Sgt. Jacob Simmons, JTF-SD senior enlisted leader.

“Growing up watching the space race, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say ‘astronaut,’” Miller said. “My son said a professional lacrosse player.  Thanks to what you all are doing here, [young people] have the opportunity to say astronaut, Guardian or to specialize in space. It’s truly awesome what you’re doing here.”

Dickinson set the stage explaining the command’s structure where JTF-SD nests, then James provided a condensed mission brief in order to get Miller and the SEAC out to meet the team conducting operations.

Once on the floor, Miller recognized Army Maj. James Kirby, JTF-SD chief, Operations Integration Branch and Echo Crew mission director; Shane Cowen, JTF-SD orbital analyst; and Stephanie Ouding, JTF-SD deputy chief, Intelligence Division, for their efforts in executing the task force’s protect and defend mission. Additionally, Miller recognized Space Force Capt. David Kessler, Delta 9 Initial Qualification Training branch chief, and Space Force Master Sgt. Matthew Harrell, 3rd Space Operations Squadron mission assurance flight chief, for their warfighting efforts in support of the combatant command.

“Thanks for making history,” Miller said. “There’s so much ‘suborbital’ (What’s your saying for ‘beneath the surface?’) stuff here – what you’re doing here is amazing.”

Several members briefed Miller on their portions of the mission including highlighting Miller’s role in enabling the combatant command and the JTF-SD to operate its critical missions at the speed of need.

During the visit, Colón-López also recognized service members for their warfighting efforts including: Space Force Maj. Sam Barbaro, JTF-SD Futures branch chief; Space Force Senior Master Sgt. Lance Thibault, National Space Defense Center senior enlisted leader; Navy Information Technician 1st Class Alexis Rodriguez Lozada, JTF-SD Infrastructure lead petty officer; Space Force Staff Sgt. Matthew Sibernagel, 1st Space Operations Squadron satellite vehicle operator; and Space Force Tech. Sgt. Dale Duxbury, Delta 9 Standards and Evaluations section chief.

“Thank you for what you’re doing to maintain our advantage,” he said. “Other forces try to replicate what we have here – a strong enlisted force empowered by our officer corps. You serve with purpose and meaning whether it’s for four or 20 years. Thank you for what you’re doing.”

While on the operations floor named in honor of Senior Master Sgt. Harold Mosely II, JTF-SD enlisted members shared their stories of working with Mosely and viewed the library they’ve established with his family’s support. Mosely died in a rock climbing accident Nov. 23, 2018. 

“It’s good to see you memorialize him and the impact he had on his teammates,” the SEAC said. “It’s the teamwork that matters most to us. As [Miller] and I have travelled and met with Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and now, Guardians, it’s the teamwork that keeps people going. It always boils down to that, having a strong tribe.”

The SEAC, who is also a rock climber, added his coin and a card with a written note to the library’s display case, a first among those who’ve visited the floor since its dedication.

Due to his position’s unique nature, the SEAC took a moment to explain the meaning behind his dog tag-shaped coin. It features the SEAC colors as this position is the only enlisted position with its own flag. 

“It reminds me of my responsibility to you,” he said. “My signature is on there to remind me it’s my name on the line. The constitution is on there to remind me of the oath we took to protect it.”

The SEAC chevron recognizes of the rank change for this position. Most of the service emblems are on the coin, one with the Space Force emblem is forthcoming.

“This helps me remember my commitment to the joint force,” Colón-López said. 

He also included a quote on his coin: “Amateurs train until they get it right, professionals train until they cannot get it wrong.” 

“Set the example for those who follow you,” he added.

The SEAC then met with more of the unit’s enlisted members to hear about their roles within the organization.

“We are not taking this lightly,” he said in reference to the members’ efforts and the Space Force at large. “This is real, this is happening, what a great opportunity. You’re on the forefront of defining what it means to be a Guardian.”

Prior to departing, the SEAC challenged a service member to a pull-up in one of the doorways. With fingers just barely atop the narrow door jam, Colón-López completed his with ease. And then, calling on his enlisted heritage, set about training his fellow enlisted service member to follow in his footsteps.

“See, you can hang on like that all day,” Colón-López said.