By Jennifer Thibault | 50th Space Wing Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The 50th Space Wing welcomed new leadership during a change-of-command ceremony held in front of the Dekok building June 24.
Maj. Gen. Stephen Whiting, Fourteenth Air Force commander, presided over the ceremony which transferred the wing’s reigns to Col. James Smith from previous commander, Col. Jennifer Grant.
“They both earned this opportunity because they are tested, proven and trusted,” Whiting said. “Being selected for wing command is one of the most exciting and the most terrifying experiences an officer can have. That’s because wing command is probably the toughest, most rewarding and most humbling command position in our Air Force. Congratulations to you both.”
Whiting then spoke directly to the wing’s members.
“Your tireless dedication is what proves true credo as the ‘Masters of Space’, and what keeps our Air Force on the leading edge. The challenges we face in this time of conflict and uncertain peace are not easy,” he said. “Every day, you act as our nation’s sword and shield, to protect and enhance our way of life. Through your hard work in the space domain, you provide game changing capabilities to our joint and coalition forces around the globe.”
Whiting then listed some of the highlights during Grant’s tenure to include leading the first-ever, base-wide continuity of operations event where seven space missions were successfully transferred to alternate locations across the nation; the creation of the Innovative Warfighters Advancing Readiness panel, which solicits and awards Airmen’s solutions with resources to execute to improve readiness and resilience across the installation, and developing the Air Force’s first and only mission defense team contract delivering unrivaled support for critical Defensive Cyberspace Operations.
Prior to relinquishing command, Grant addressed her fellow leaders, wing members and community partners.
“Thank you,” Grant said. “That’s what I want to say most. I just have a message of gratitude today. It truly has been an honor serving and leading this wing. Your rundown of accomplishments at the wing and at the installation is humbling to hear in a litany, and we have the people of the 50th Space Wing and Schriever Air Force Base to thank for that success.”
Smith returns to Schriever AFB with his wife Kristy and their children, leaving his post as commander, Air Force Element, Royal Air Force Menwith Hill, United Kingdom. Smith previously served at Schriever AFB as a spacecraft systems engineer with the 2nd Space Operations Squadron from May 1999 to June 2002.
“If you asked me to look into the future as a captain or major and name my dream job, I would have told you any type of job at the 50th. For that job to be as your commander is extra special but also incredibly humbling,” Smith said.
As commander of the wing and installation host, Smith is responsible for the operation and support of more than 185 satellites and installation support to 16 major tenant units with a workforce of more than 7,000 military, Department of Defense civilians and contractor personnel. The base, with its mission partners, provides a combined economic impact of approximately $1.3 billion annually.
“[When I was] in the 50th, I found two things: a mission and, probably more importantly, mentors who ignited my passion for service in a way I’d never expected,” Smith recalled. “My promise to you as the wing commander is to wake up each day equally excited as I was then about our incredible mission and to do my best to be the mentor and leader to each of you that I was privileged to experience then.”
We’re in an exciting period of change in space operations,” Smith continued. “Never has the work we do here or the impact we make on the world been more critical. You are the men and women who get it right each and every day and I’m humbled to join you again as we work to define the future as the Master of Space.”
After two years in command, Grant is headed to the Pentagon, in Washington, D.C.