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Here’s the new commander in charge of US nuclear forces

U.S. Navy Adm. Charles A. Richard, commander of U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., Nov. 18, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ian Hoachlander)
November 18, 2019

The U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) on Monday morning carried out a change of command ceremony and dedicated a new Command and Control facility at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.

Navy Vice Adm. Charles Richard officially assumed command of USSTRATCOM, taking over for Air Force Gen. John Hyten, WOWT reported. Hyten served on USSTRATCOM since November 2016.

USSTRATCOM’s mission includes overseeing nuclear operations; space operations; joint electronic spectrum operations; global strike; missile defense; and analysis and targeting. Its role coordinates the operations of all other Joint Forces.

The change of command follows President Donald Trump’s April decision to nominate Gen. Hyten to serve as the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Hyten’s nomination was confirmed by the Senate in September on a 75-22 vote.

Deputy Defense Secretary David L. Norquist presided over the ceremony and Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was also in attendance to offer remarks about Hyten’s departure and Richards’ assumption of command.

“This mission is second nature to you,” Milley said of Richard’s appointment.

Milley joked, “You commanded two nuclear subs, served aboard three others and you safely navigated them under the water with no windows. Very impressive.”

Richard previously served as the commander to Submarine Forces Atlantic out of Norfolk, Virginia.

“I’m honored beyond belief and humbled beyond belief to be taking over command for the 150,000 professionals that are the U.S. Strategic Command,” Richard said at a press conference for the change of command ceremony.

Richard said that with his command will come a continuation of the USSTRATCOM mission focus towards deterring military threats and overseeing the strategic military response to existing threats.

In his departing remarks, Hyten noted changes to the USSTRATCOM focus over the years, including moves away from space and cyberdefense portions of the command mission.

“We still have to integrate space and cyber,” Hyten said. “We’re just going to do it through the partnerships we have with two other commands.”

The ceremony also included the dedication of a new Command and Control Facility (C2F). The new state-of-the-art facility was dedicated to honor Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay.

“The United States Strategic Command’s new headquarters, the Command and Control Facility, is the most advanced and comprehensive weapons system ever constructed in military history,” said one official acting as master of ceremonies to the change of command.

Public affairs officials for USSTRATCOM described the C2F facility as, “A major step forward toward modernization of the nuclear enterprise.”