Whiting Swears in as New SPACECOM Boss, Vowing to Foster Partnerships (Image Credit: airandspaceforces)
Space Force Gen. Stephen N. Whiting became the new head of U.S. Space Command on Jan. 10, succeeding Army Gen. James Dickinson during a change of command ceremony at Peterson Space Force Base, Colo.
In his speech as commander, Whiting pledged to foster partnerships with military branches and allies, reaffirming his commitment to safeguard space and deliver capabilities to the joint force.
“Our highest priority is to preserve freedom of action in space,” Whiting said. “The People’s Republic of China and Russia consider space a war-fighting domain, and their increasingly assertive actions have made space more contested. Their actions have created real threats to our national space power and the critical space infrastructure upon which our nation relies.”
Whiting previously served as the first ever head of Space Operations Command, a field command under the Space Force, starting in October 2020.
Under his leadership, SpOC aided in the U.S. response to global events such as the invasion of Ukraine and terrorist attacks on Israel. Additionally, the field command established various new Deltas and Squadrons.
Now, he’ll take over at SPACECOM at a pivotal moment, as the Space Force reorganizes how its presents forces to the combatant command and the Pentagon plans to launch dozens of new satellites in the next few years. The command’s long-term future also remains unsettled amid a long-running dispute over its permanent headquarters, though it did declare full operational capability Dec. 15 at its temporary home in Colorado Springs.
Whiting is only the second Space Force general to lead a combatant command, following Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, who served as both Chief of Space Operations and SPACECOM commander from 2019-2020. The Space Force is the service dedicated to arming, training, and equipping space-focused forces; Space Command is the combatant command responsible for delivering space capabilities to joint and combined forces while protecting and defending the space domain by employing joint forces from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Space Force
In his speech, Whiting highlighted the significance of collaboration between Space Command and Space Force and vowed to avoid internal competition.
“No doubt there are tensions between services and combatant commands,” Whiting said. “But let me be clear, maximizing the outcomes for the nation in space ahead of any organizational equities will be my priority.”
Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Christopher W. Grady were also present at the ceremony.
Hicks, standing in for hospitalized Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, also noted the increasingly aggressive actions of China and Russia in space. She highlighted resilient space architectures—a new area of emphasis in space—as crucial to the U.S. response, asserting that “conflict is not inevitable.”
“The United States of America is committed to preventing conflict through deterrence by making clear to our competitors that the costs of aggression would far outweigh any conceivable benefits,” Hicks said. “Everyone at this command is part of how we do that.”
Whiting’s ascension at SPACECOM comes months after his nomination in July 2023, the result of a delayed Senate confirmation process. His departure from Space Operations Command clears the way for Lt. Gen. David N. Miller Jr. to assume command of that organization.