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Passing the guidon: Gen Ray takes command of AFGSC

Gen. Timothy Ray accepts the Air Force Global Strike Command guidon from the Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein during a change of command ceremony at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Aug. 21, 2018.

Gen. Timothy Ray accepts the Air Force Global Strike Command guidon from the Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein during a change of command ceremony at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Aug. 21, 2018. AFGSC’s mission is to provide strategic deterrence, global strike and combat support. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Philip Bryant)

Gen. Timothy Ray accepts the Air Force Global Strike Command flag from Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein during a change of command ceremony at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Aug. 21, 2018

Gen. Timothy Ray accepts the Air Force Global Strike Command flag from Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein during a change of command ceremony at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Aug. 21, 2018. AFGSC's mission is to provide strategic deterrence, global strike and combat support…anytime, anywhere. Ray comes to AFGSC from U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany, where he served as the deputy commander. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sydney Campbell)

Gen. Robin Rand relinquishes the Air Force Global Strike Command flag to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein

Gen. Robin Rand relinquishes the Air Force Global Strike Command flag to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein during a change of command ceremony at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Aug. 21, 2018. AFGSC's mission is to provide strategic deterrence, global strike and combat support…anytime, anywhere. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sydney Campbell)

Gen. Timothy Ray addresses the audience after assuming command of Air Force Global Strike Command during a ceremony at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Aug. 21, 2018

Gen. Timothy Ray addresses the audience after assuming command of Air Force Global Strike Command during a ceremony at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Aug. 21, 2018. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfien presided over the ceremony. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Philip Bryant)

Gen. Timothy Ray, AFGSC commander, escorts his wife, Rhonda, during the Departure of the Official Party at the conclusion of Air Force Global Strike Command's change of command ceremony at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Aug. 21, 2018.

Gen. Timothy Ray, AFGSC commander, escorts his wife, Rhonda, during the Departure of the Official Party at the conclusion of Air Force Global Strike Command's change of command ceremony at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Aug. 21, 2018. AFGSC’s mission is to provide strategic deterrence, global strike and combat support. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Philip Bryant)

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Gen. Timothy Ray took command of Air Force Global Strike Command from Gen. Robin Rand, outgoing AFGSC commander, during a ceremony here, Aug. 21. He is the newest leader of the U.S. Air Force’s portion of the nuclear enterprise, which maintains the nation's only force of Minuteman III ICBMs and strategic bombers.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein presided over the ceremony and said that Ray was the obvious choice to serve as the newest commander of AFGSC.

“He brings the perfect blend of operational expertise, proven combat leadership and passion for people to take this team to new heights,” Goldfein said. “And to the Airmen of Air Force Global Strike Command, thank you for your dedication to the mission and your spirit to serve. Make no mistake, America sleeps well at night because our Air Force Global Strike Command doesn’t. You are our nation’s sentinels, sword and shield.”
 
U.S. Strategic Command Commander Gen. John E. Hyten was also in attendance and spoke to the command’s mission and role in world affairs.

“Our mission is a serious mission,” Hyten said. “Strategic deterrence is the Department of Defense’s most important mission that we do and it’s enabled, in great part, by the great combat power of Global Strike Command. Since its inception, our strategic deterrent has fostered world peace by preventing major power conflicts.”

After receiving the guidon, Ray addressed his new command at Barksdale's Hoban Hall.

“When I come here to Hoban Hall, there is a lot that comes with it,” Ray said. “A lot has happened in this room. It was in this room that I saw the last SAC bomb competition. It’s also in this room that I got to see some of my heroes take command and then later retire. It was in this room too that I got to see the stand up of Air Force Global Strike Command, when we rebuilt the command from scratch. It was in this room as well where we had the Global Strike Challenge, when we reinvigorated that particular heritage. So, to stand here on this stage, taking command of the mightiest arsenal on the planet, it’s very humbling.”

As AFGSC commander, Ray is responsible for the nation’s fleet of Minuteman III ICBMs, the land-based component of the nuclear triad. Three missile wings and one Numbered Air Force maintain this deterrent force on a day-to-day basis. Ray is also responsible for all of the nation’s strategic bombers, which include the nuclear-capable B-52H Stratofortress and B-2 Spirit, as well as the conventional-only B-1B Lancer. These aircraft fall under five wings spread throughout the United States and one Numbered Air Force. Altogether, these aircraft form the air-based leg of the triad, which is deployed in support of every combatant command around the world.

The command is also responsible for the Nuclear Command, Control and Communications Center, or NC3. Dubbed the “system of systems,” NC3 provides a direct connection between the president of the United States and all nuclear forces under his authority.

Ray enters the position after serving as the deputy commander of United States European Command, which prepares ready forces, ensures strategic access, deters conflict, enables the NATO Alliance, strengthens partnerships, and counters transnational threats in order to protect and defend the U.S. He is also no stranger to the bomber community or the nuclear enterprise, as he has flown both the B-1 and the B-52. Ray also served as the commander of the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, and the vice commander of the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB, North Dakota. Additionally, he served as the Director of Operations at AFGSC from Aug. 2008 to Aug. 2009.

“It was in this room (Hoban Hall) too that I got to take command of the 96th Bomb Squadron,” Ray said. “The chief achievement isn’t so much the stars, it’s taking people to combat and bringing them back.”

Ray succeeds Rand, the first four-star general officer to serve as commander of AFGSC. Under Rand’s leadership, AFGSC saw the implementation of career-changes to the 13N, or missileer, career field, as well as force structure changes to AFGSC security forces, changes that resulted in better equipment, shorter assignments and more opportunity for professional development.

In his farewell address, Rand praised Global Strike Airmen for their hard work and commitment to the global strike mission.

“As we sit in the comfort of this room, literally thousands of our Airmen assigned to Air Force Global Strike are away from their families, conducting demanding and dangerous combat operations within every combatant command on the globe,” Rand said. “I sleep well knowing that Airmen like you are working around to clock to keep me and my family safe and to protect our way of life.”

Rand is retiring to be with his family after a 39-year-long career in the U.S. Air Force that began after serving as a cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy and graduating with a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1979.