COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. --The Army promoted its first space general Tuesday in a ceremony at Peterson Air Force Base.

While Brig. Gen. Kurt Story isn't the first general to oversee the Army's space operations, he is the first promoted from within its ranks of orbital experts. He's the deputy commander for operations at U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command.

A 28-year Army veteran, Story has served in a string of Colorado Springs assignments, including chief of staff at Army Space Command and commander of the 1st Space Brigade.

In his current job, the newly-promoted general helps ensure that Soldiers on the ground around the world can use satellites in battles. During the past 20 years, Army reliance on satellites has increased exponentially, with Soldiers on battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan using space-based technology for communication, navigation and intelligence.

In the past decade, the Army has also taken a leading role in missile defense. Interceptors kept in silos in California and Alaska are on alert to destroy the warheads of enemy nuclear missiles launched at the United States and its allies.

Until the 1990s, though, the Army didn't have a specific career field for officers who worked in space operations. Instead, space leaders were drawn from other fields, like air defense and artillery.

Since space operations is now a designated field for officers, Story is the first general to come from the pool of space-trained officers.

Story is a Mercer University graduate. He has been awarded the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit and Defense Meritorious Service Medal.