June 24, 2016 – Col. Richard L. Zellmann assumed command of the 1st Space Brigade from the outgoing commander, Col. Thomas L. James, during a Change of Command conducted at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado on June 21.
Lt. Gen. David L. Mann, commanding general, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, hosted the ceremony for the 1st Space Brigade, which provides critical space capabilities and products to Warfighters and combatant commanders.
After passing the brigade colors to the new commander, Mann in his remarks said, “The Army requires a tough selection process to ensure that the right officers and the right noncommissioned officers are selected to lead our Soldiers,” Mann added. “Col. James has taken this command to the next level. He has led with distinction and class at a time when the mission continues to grow while resources are a challenge.”
Mann then turned his attention to the incoming commander.
“We continue to select commanders based upon a record of excellence, and Rick Zellmann is just the man for the job. In fact it’s no surprise that Rick was selected for this position. He’s been instrumental in space operations working at many levels and throughout the space community. He is no stranger to SMDC spending time as an executive officer and as commander with the 1st Space Battalion, and he was a superb leader in our G-31 shop. He is the perfect fit for this brigade.”
As the outgoing commander, James honored the Soldiers, civilians and contractors of the 1st Space Brigade.
“We’re here today to recognize a change in brigade leadership, but really this is an opportunity to publically honor the 1st Space Brigade — the Soldiers, active and reserve; our Australian coalition members; civilians, families and contractors. Make no mistake, there is only one ‘space brigade,’ and no other organization on the planet is organized, trained, and equipped to do all that this brigade does and does incredibly well as a matter of routine.”
James told attendees how fortunate the brigade was to have Team Zellmann at the helm.
“Rick, you have a unique background that prepares you better for this command more so than any of your predecessors. You are the right leader at the right time. I am excited for the future of the brigade under your tenure. You have a bright path ahead of you. Best of luck and God speed to you and Lynn.”
Upon taking command, Zellmann addressed the importance of the brigade.
“The team you see out on the field today is building readiness … getting ready for their turn to deploy and continue the legacy of successful operational deployments of the 1st Space Brigade,” said Zellmann. “Today most of the Army is reducing in size. The 1st Space Brigade is growing. We are growing because the Army and our adversaries recognize the importance of the space domain in modern combat operations. Because the space domain is so important and the Army still has only one ‘space brigade,’ every Soldier in the formation has to be ready for the away game, and that’s to support the (Forces Command) commander.”
Prior to the official ceremony, Mann presented the Legion of Merit Award to James for exceptionally meritorious service as commander of the 1st Space Brigade and the Outstanding Civilian Service Medal to Nicole for her support to the community and for her contributions and efforts to the Soldiers and families of the 1st Space Brigade.
The 1st Space Brigade is the Army’s only space brigade. It’s made up of three battalions: the 53rd Signal Battalion (satellite control), the 1st Space Battalion, and the 117th Space Battalion Colorado Army National Guard. The 53rd Signal and 1st Space Battalions are charged with providing day-to-day Space support to the operational Army. It is a component of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command.