By DoD News
By Terri Moon Cronk
For decades, the world has enjoyed the freedom to operate in space, and today, billions of people worldwide rely on space-based capabilities. ”Yet we now find that space has become highly contested, and the gains the United States possesses are threatened,” Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper said at the U.S. Space Command change-of-command ceremony in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Army Gen. James H. Dickinson succeeded Space Force Gen. John W. ”Jay” Raymond as Spacecom commander, the 11th and newest DOD combatant command. Raymond, the chief of space operations, had also led Spacecom since its inception.
”[As] we continue to push the limits of science and innovation, we recognize that our competitors are seeking new ways to exploit our systems and to undermine our military advantage,” Esper said. ”We know, for example, that China and Russia are weaponizing space through the development of anti-satellite missiles, directed energy, weapons and more — all designed to hold the United States and allied space systems at risk. They have turned a once peaceful arena into a warfighting domain.”
Space power will be essential in any future conflict. The National Defense Strategy underscores the importance of modernizing our space capabilities to effectively respond to this rapidly changing and complex security environment, the secretary said.
As Spacecom’s top officer, Raymond pushed joint warfighting excellence in the space domain by focusing on the organization, training and equipping of our nation’s finest space professionals, Esper said.
Dickinson, prior to becoming Spacecom’s deputy commander, commanded the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, Army Forces Strategic Command and the Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense, a seminal experience that has equipped space operations in a joint environment, Esper said.
”Jim Dickinson is a man of enormous character. And in this particular job, he’s going to need every ounce of that character, because he’s going to have to continually render his best military advice to the secretary of defense and the president in times of crisis in good times and bad times,” Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said.
”Jim Dickinson’s foot will now be on the accelerator, pedaling,” Raymond said of his Spacecom successor. ”Thank you for serving so closely with me over the past six months, and I couldn’t be more excited. There is no one more qualified to serve as commander in chief of space operations.”
”I am truly humbled and deeply honored to assume command of your Space Command … I am thankful to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the secretary of defense, the president of the United States and our congressional leader for the trust and confidence they have placed in me to lead our nation’s newest combatant command in its role to protect, defend and advance our nation’s interest in space,” Dickinson said.