U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Aleah M. Castrejon, 104th Public Affairs Detachment, Colorado National Guard —
The Colorado Army National Guard’s North American Aerospace Defense Command/U.S. Northern Command Mobilization Element held a change of command ceremony between U.S. Army Lt. Col. Andrew Diederich, incoming commander, and U.S. Army Col. Scot J. Hartman, outgoing commander, at the Regional Training Institute at Fort Carson Sept. 7, 2019.
A change of command ceremony is a tradition dating back to 406 B.C., where the departing commander officially hands over his responsibilities to the new commander by passing the colors.
Commander, Land Component Command, U.S. Army Col. Robert B. Davis, of the COARNG, shared remarks on the importance of building relationships, extending influence, and building more trust.
“Scot (Hartman), once again thanks for taking on (the) responsibility of command (for the 169th Field Artillery Brigade) – great work,” Davis said. “I am excited for you and your next job as the commander of the 169th. Andrew (Diederich), congratulations to you and Tanya for your selection to service, commander of the mobilization element … I am excited to have you in command. I can’t imagine a better, more qualified, capable officer to take this position.”
He challenged the incoming commander to continue building on the foundation that Hartman left, including pushing the Soldiers to be better.
Diederich said he has seen many changes at NORAD/NORTHCOM, as this is his third time returning to the unit, although in different positions each time.
“This is a great unit,” he said. “One of the best things about this unit … it’s not the things we do at NORAD/NORTHCOM, those things are important, (but) it’s the things we do as a unit and then bring back to the Colorado Army National Guard … NORAD/NORTHCOM (Mobilization Element) is the only unit like this for National Guardsmen.”
NORAD is headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and is the only one of its kind. NORAD began in the mid-1950s when an agreement between the Canadian and U.S. governments created it as a bi-national command, centralizing operational control of continental air defenses against the threat of Soviet bombers.
Today the mission of NORAD continues between the two countries, as they continue to meet the challenges posted by ever-changing threats. In addition to NORAD, the incoming commander is doubly tasked with support to USNORTHCOM. Its mission is to deter, prevent and defeat threats and aggression aimed at the U.S. and its territories and interests.
Diederich spoke about being prepared for national disasters and the response to the most recent hurricane, Dorian, which he said USNORTHCOM was proud to support.
USNORTHCOM was activated Oct. 1, 2002, and was prompted by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It was the first time a single military commander had been charged with protecting the U.S. homeland since the days of George Washington. NORAD-USNORTHCOM is responsible for all air, land and sea approaches to North America passing through the continental U.S., Alaska, Canada, Mexico and the surrounding water areas out to about 500 nautical miles. The combatant command is also responsible to provide military assistance when hurricanes, floods, wildfires, or any other dual-status command event occurs. A dual status commander simultaneously serves in two statuses, Federal and State, to facilitate unity of effort between state National Guard and federal military forces.
“Thank you very much (Hartman) for this great opportunity,” Diederich said. “Thank you for handing off a good unit, and (NORAD/)NORTHCOM, glad to be back.”
Hartman served in the position for a short time but said he is happy to leave the command in the very capable hands of Diederich.
“I’ve learned so much here,” Hartman, who took command of the 169th FAB the same day, said. “I think I leave the command in great hands. I can’t think of a better person, as the land component commander was saying, to leave this in the hands of (Diederich). I know you will continue to challenge the unit and drive it forward to even higher heights.”