Members of the organization charged with helping track and catalog objects in earth's orbit welcomed their new commander, Capt. Roland Rainey Jr., at a July 12 change of command ceremony. The 614 Air and Space Operations Center Detachment 1 (AOC Det 1) also said goodbye to its first commander, Maj. Jason D'Alessio.
Col. John Wagner, commander of the 614th Air and Space Operations Center and Director of the Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC), traveled to the ceremony from his command at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. "This is a historic occasion," Wagner told the audience. "This is the first transfer of [the 614 AOC Det 1] guidon."
The 614th AOC Det 1 stood up in 2010; prior to commanding the then-new organization, D'Alessio served as the operations officer for the 20th Space Control Squadron (SCS), also located in Dahlgren.
Wagner praised D'Alessio for the work he accomplished during his tenure. "The things that you've done here were necessary building blocks [for transition]," Wagner told D'Alessio. "The training that you've established, the procedures and your continuous push for operations excellence were exactly what we needed. You have been a continuous advocate for the people here, the mission and our future."
For his outstanding performance of duties while serving in Dahlgren, Wagner presented D'Alessio the Meritorious Service Medal.
"First and foremost" on D'Alessio's thank you list was his family, who faced several health challenges when he began his tour in Dahlgren. "It was a great benefit to have a lot of people here who I could rely on to help me out," D'Alessio told personnel from the 614th AOC Det 1 and 20th SCS. "Everyone is doing fine [now] and has a clean bill of health. I was blessed to be able to support them the way you guys support me."
D'Alessio thanked all the members of his staff for their support and encouraged everyone to take special care of enlisted personnel. "Please don't forget about our enlisted troops," said D'Alessio.
Several staff and service members praised D'Alessio's leadership ability and his willingness to "let leaders lead." His boating trips to Lake Anna boosted unit morale during times of stress and transition.
"This has truly been an honor," said D'Alessio. "This is a hard place to leave. it's definitely a family, a community."
Scott Leonard, director of space operations at the 614th AOC Det 1, said the change of command represented a "mixed bag" - while everyone is sad to see D'Alessio go, he will be a key supporter of the 614th AOC Det 1 in his new position at Vandenberg AFB. "It's so exciting to see this new transition develop as he works over in Vandenberg as the head critical node to transitioning to greater operational capabilities in Dahlgren to support JSpOC," said Leonard. "He is going to be the essential point. It will be wonderful to have him there."
Leonard thought that Rainey would be a great fit in Dahlgren. "I think Captain Rainey will have a great experience here."
Rainey greeted members of his new command and said he looked forward to becoming part of the community. "This is a very joyous day for my family and I as we join the Dahlgren family and embark on this new adventure of ours," said Rainey. "We've been on many adventures, had many assignments in our life and we're absolutely thrilled to be here."
Rainey thanked D'Alessio for laying the foundation of a successful change of command. "Five minutes after I received the email about the assignment [to Dahlgren], I received a phone call [from D'Alessio]," Rainey told the audience. "[D'Alessio's] dedication to my transition is a true testament to his commitment to the success of this detachment."
Wagner said he thought Rainey's time in Dahlgren would be a successful one. "I look forward with anticipation and excitement to Captain Rainey's tenure," said Wagner. "This is a team of seasoned professionals who are experienced and savvy in this mission. He inherits a great organization and we're expecting big things."
Wagner also spoke about the 614th AOC Det 1 mission. "From a mission perspective, Det 1 supports JSpOC space situational awareness by tasking more than 31 sensors located around the world to track more than 23,000 objects in space," he said.
Such capabilities are crucial to a variety of military operations. "Space is critical to everything we do in the Department of Defense," said Wagner. "We must provide a clear understanding of anything that could harm our critical assets in space, whether natural or man-made ... and we must ensure we take all necessary precautions to safeguard these capabilities."
Wagner emphasized the need for "even greater synergy between Dahlgren and Vandenberg" in operations as the Air Force modernizes its space surveillance system.
"I've got three priorities for the folks under my command," said Wagner. "One is continued operations excellence; that has to be our core. Two is continuing to build our foundation. Three is integrating new capabilities... we must ensure we transition to upgraded capabilities without losing our operational edge."
Wagner praised the members of the 614th AOC Det 1 for providing operational focus and excellence. "It's important for us to remember the seasoned professionals in Dahlgren," he said. "Most have worked here for a decade or more and we will continue to build upon their knowledge as we move forward into the future."