by Thea Skinner
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
Col. Jay Raymond relinquished command of the 21st Space Wing to Col. Stephen Whiting in a change of command ceremony at the base parade field Aug. 20.
Command priorities, dedication to personnel, and upholding missions were of top concern, in consideration of the wing’s numerous warfighting platforms such as geographically separated units and tenant units. The 21st SW commander provides support and protection for more than 16,000 personnel across six installations.
“My leadership style is rooted in the premise that he who leads must first serve,” Colonel Whiting said during the ceremony. “That is my job — to serve you and give you the tools and resources you need to successfully accomplish your mission.”
He outlined his four priorities as providing trained combat-ready and disciplined forces, professionally operate all wing installations providing outstanding support to mission partner tenants, develop Airmen and prepare them for worldwide deployment in response to combatant commander taskings, and continue to enforce a culture of compliance and continuous improvement in the wing.
“We will be dedicated to creative, adaptive, flexible, and timely planning while always demonstrating complete discipline in the execution of all of our missions,” Colonel Whiting said. “We understand that compliance with guidance is absolutely critical and in fact some of that guidance was written in blood by those who went before us.”
Colonel Whiting was previously assigned to Newport, R.I., as an Air Force fellow. He has also served as a crew commander assigned to successive space warning assignments at Cape Cod Air Force Station, Mass., and Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., where he worked radar issues and became the executive officer of the operations group. He was also a former commander at Clear Air Force Station, Alaska.
During the ceremony, Colonel Raymond handed the blue and yellow guidon to Lt. Gen. Larry James, 14th Air Force commander, who in turn handed the flag to Colonel Whiting, signifying the passing of command.
General James traveled from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., to officiate the ceremony.
“Being a commander is an extremely important duty,” General James said. “We don’t bestow that responsibility lightly. Col. Jay Raymond has done an absolutely outstanding job in leading this wing. Of course you don’t do that without the participation of your family. They really do put out a lot of team effort and team sweat that is often behind the scenes.
“Command is about people and mission — and you really have to balance those two. Jay certainly did a great job taking care of the people. If you look around at what has gone on around this base over the last year or two, it truly is transformational,” he said.
During Colonel Raymond’s command, a privatized housing operation with new base housing that required the movement of people along with additions and upgrades to facilities were implemented.
“We have cut more ribbons than the holiday gift wrapper at Macy’s,” Colonel Raymond said. “As I look back on the 26 months I am so proud of your successes. On installation support and protection at Peterson and our five other installations that you are responsible for — over the last two years you have planned, contracted, and executed over $90 million worth of improvements to those installations.”
In 2008 the base had nearly $1.2 billion in economic impact upon the local community.
To accomplish the space situational awareness mission, essential actions were required.
“Jay had a tough challenge. The 21st SW — most of the folks are not here. They are throughout the world — they are at GSUs,” General James said. “We have had a lot of major milestones when we look at our missile warning radars. He walked us through and made sure all the upgrading efforts for those missile warning radars were taken care of. They were executed properly without any hiccup.”
The 21st SW oversees 39 space surveillance and missile warning units and 12 weapons systems in 27 locations across five countries.
“What I am going to remember are the Airmen of this wing,” Colonel Raymond said in voice full of emotion. “Thank you for the privilege to serve with you. Today 186 members of the 21st SW are deployed in harm’s way. If you look at the training programs that you have developed, to prepare those who deploy they were the best in the Air Force and you have taken exceptional care of our families that have been deemed best in the Air Force.”
Colonel Raymond, who has since pinned on his first star, did not move far. The general now serves as director of Plans, Programs and Analyses, Headquarters Air Force Space Command.