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SPEECH | Jan. 31, 2014

JFCC Space Change of Command Remarks

Good morning.  Thank you General Shelton and Lieutenant General Helms for your great remarks.  Willie and Linda, thank you, of course, for being here, and of course I echo the praise that was mentioned here earlier, for the just great job done by Susan here, with grace, and integrity, and character.  I also thank you, Willie, for your leadership and your distinguished service to our country, and to our great nation.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, fellow flag officers and general officers.  I also want to highlight Ms. Betty Sapp, and it’s also great to have Mayors here from the community that were mentioned earlier, and of course just the members of this military and the incredible Space team that’s here before us today… good morning and thank you for taking time out of your day for this momentous occasion with both General Helms and General Raymond.

It has been an interesting couple of weeks.  Since taking command of US Strategic Command I’ve visited most of our bases with nuclear deterrent forces.  Last week, I left Omaha with sub-zero temperatures thinking I would be really glad for much milder temps as I travel, particularly down at Barksdale, Louisiana.  Who would expect to see snow flurries there?  Then this week I go to DC and they had a snow storm and of course Great Falls there, also an Air Force Base, and of course they already had snow and it continued while I was there.   I keep looking up.  It sure is great to be on the planet where the temp is greater than 20 degrees, this is new for me.  This really means I need to come back to Vandenberg more often.  Seriously, it’s great to be here with just an amazing team of talented individuals.

I must say that I also find the timing particularly interesting, in that it was this day 56 years ago, that the United States launched our first satellite, Explorer I, marking the beginning of US space exploration. Space exploration has an illustrious history, and it is an honor for me today to speak as we continue just that journey.  As previously being the deputy commander of US Strategic Command and now commander, I couldn’t be more thankful for the great work Susan has accomplished, both as the director of US Strategic Command’s planning shop, and of course for what she has done here, dual-hatted as commander of 14th Air Force and Joint Functional Component Command Space, or as we say JFCC-Space.

The Space capabilities she delivered provides assured command and control, communications, warning, positioning, navigation, timing, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, global communications, environmental monitoring etc.  to our combatant commands, geographically located, around the globe.

As you just heard in her award presentation, amidst the many challenges we face in this uncertain world, she has dedicated the past three years of her life to providing some certainty to our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines all around the world, many of whom are in harm’s way, by ensuring continuous and integrated space operations, providing global effects and essential capabilities.  On their behalf, I thank you Susan and congratulate you, on your successful command tour and the well-deserved award.  The team Susan leads and the work they accomplished, directly contribute to my mission as commander of US Strategic Command—and our responsibilities span the globe, from under the sea to geo-synchronous orbit, and provides the enduring mission of strategic deterrence, while moving at the speed of cyber.

While cyber represents another strategic command mission, some of you may be more familiar with US Strategic Command’s association with the nuclear triad and strategic deterrence … my top priority.  However, effective strategic deterrence cannot be achieved with the triad alone. Without the sensors, particularly out in space, the command and control and communications capabilities, and of course Space Situational Awareness.  The space capability provided in part by the professional team Susan has led…we would not have a credible deterrent.  This is why addressing challenges in space is also a top priority for me.  Given our unique capability to integrate space power into global joint military operations, we are able to execute Strategic Command’s Deterrence and Assurance campaign.

Given today’s threat assessments, I’m especially glad to have JFCC-Space and our Joint Space Operations Center, called JSpOC, on my team.  Your community is critically important in the area where we are concerned with the nuclear ambitions by states of concern, the modernization of strategic capabilities of potential adversaries, and the intentions of those who aspire to have Weapons of Mass Destruction.  Our mission to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction would be severely limited without the significant day-to-day space operations and planning that you folks provide on a continuous basis.  14th Air Force and JFCC-Space provide our nation a unique skill set…one I know that I, and General Shelton, will continue to advocate for, even under these fiscal constraints to support our global operations in this complex strategic environment.  We can ill afford to short-change this space mission.

It takes outstanding leaders like Susan, who work very hard to prioritize their budget, while still providing assured space capabilities to maintain strategic and operational advantages around the globe, in real-world operations as was mentioned in her award, to include that tsunami in Japan.

It is noteworthy to be on this podium today talking about Deterrence and Assurance, in the company of the two leaders here that are before you that were instrumental in developing our Strategic Command’s Deterrence and Assurance campaign plan…thank you both Susan and Jay.  In addition, the two of you working together as commander of my Component for Space and Strategic Command’s J5, plans and policy shop, drove progress in several key areas of the joint space mission – normalizing and integrating space-related activities in our daily lives, daily plans and support to the Geographical Combatant Commands, leading us further into a more formal coalition with our Five Eyes partners via the Combined Space Operations initiative, and opening the aperture of Space Situational Awareness with a broad range of nations and commercial entities.

Susan, I know you will miss your work in support of our national security, but you should know that you’re going to be sorely missed in the military ranks.  You have done an outstanding job, not just over the past three years, but for your past 34 years of distinguished service with grace and character.  You leave behind a tremendous legacy in the people you have led and mentored, the relationships you have established and the goals you have set and achieved.  You have provided a service to this nation in many more ways than most of us can even dream have truly made a difference.

Your former boss, a guy I have deep regard for, Bob Kehler, sends his regards and I would like to pass on a few of his words…I quote, “I will always consider myself fortunate to have served with you.  Your performance as Commander, 14th Air Force and JFCC-Space, set the benchmark for the future.  Over the span of a few short years, you built an organization capable of meeting the challenges of the 21st Century and in so doing you improved the operational capability and capacity of US Strategic Command.  Space is the final frontier, and you personally and professionally positioned our nation to operate successfully in this critically important domain; even in the face of a determined threat.  I know your vision and leadership have made the United States and our allies stronger and more secure.” End quote. I could not agree more with Bob.

Bonny and I congratulate you on your distinguished service and thank you for your many years of service to the United States Air Force, the Joint Force, and our grateful nation and wish you the best as you transition out of uniform. (applause)

General J. Raymond is here today because his last commander knew firsthand the dedication, passion, and fire he brings to the fight.  Of course, his last command was here at Strategic Command, so I speak unequivocally about that!

Jay, Bonny and I also welcome you, Mollie, your daughters Christina and Amy and your son Garry, back to US Strategic Command after your short break, and I did want to say that members of the Strategic Command family continue to support you, whether it’s locally or beyond.  It’s also great to see the family we have before us here, and I salute the service of, Jay, your dad John, and his wife Barbara here, and of course all the extended family, siblings and what have you mentioned earlier, who I won’t go into in the essence of time. But when we think about what we do, we work hard and it’s all about the families and the families that support us.  Thank you for taking time to celebrate with Jay on this important day as he takes on these new responsibilities.  I speak from my own experience when I say I know Jay could not have the important work he’s done and will continue to do without your love and support he gets from the family. I am particularly excited about Garry being a Redskins fan. 

Jay, you may not see space from the same vantage point that Susan did as an astronaut, but I know you’ll bring a unique perspective as you take command. I want you to know that I have the utmost confidence in you. I know you will build upon the outstanding work that’s already been done in 14th Air Force and JFCC-Space.  I look forward to the continued contributions to this outstanding mission, vital to our country.

I am sure the leaders here on this platform will agree with me that the capabilities that this mission provides would not be possible without the men and women, both in uniform and in civilian clothes, who conduct this mission day in and day out.  I thank you and I thank the families also with that 24/7 effort that you provide.

In closing, it is fantastic just to see the quality of leaders we have working in the space domain and how the space mission is just so critically important to the national security, and that of our allies and partners.

Susan, again thank you for your remarkable service and an opportunity to serve together.  Jay, I thank you for continued leadership.  Our nation is incredibly blessed to have such talented leaders and such a remarkable team supporting these leaders.  Thank you all and may God continue to bless our joint military force and of course, the United States of America.