Lt. Gen. John Raymond took command of 14th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic) at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., from Lt. Gen. Susan Helms during a ceremony. “I can’t begin to describe just how excited and humbled I am to get an opportunity to lead this world-class team of professionals,” said Raymond during the Jan. 31 command change, reported the Lompoc Record. Raymond, who pinned on his third star just prior to taking charge of the numbered air force, now leads the Air Force’s space forces. He had been US Strategic Command’s director of plans and policy since July 2012. Helms led 14th AF since January 2011. She officially retires from the Air Force on April 1 after nearly 34 years in uniform. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) prevented Helms’ nomination to be Air Force Space Command vice commander from proceeding because she was upset that Helms overturned a sexual assault conviction. “She’s been caught in the middle of an intense political battle,” said Gen. William Shelton, AFSPC boss, of Helms during the ceremony. “I can’t tell you how proud I am personally of her courage, her composure under extreme stress, and she’s handled it all with style and grace that I can only wish to duplicate,” he said.
In a nighttime ceremony contrived to continue concealment of many of its features, the new B-21 bomber rolled out of Northrop Grumman's Palmdale, Calif. plant Dec. 2. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the aircraft's advanced technology represents "deterrence, the American way."