FORT CARSON, Colo. - The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command's 1st Space Brigade welcomed a new commander July 13.

Col. Eric D. Little assumed command of the brigade from the outgoing commander, Col. Richard L. Zellmann, during a Change of Command at Fort Carson. Lt. Gen. James H. Dickinson, USASMDC/ARSTRAT commanding general, hosted the ceremony.

"It's an honor and a pleasure to have this opportunity to bid farewell to an exceptional officer who has served for more than nine and a half years within SMDC/ARSTRAT, to its great benefit - Col. Rick Zellmann," Dickinson said. "And to welcome back to the SMDC/ARSTRAT family Col. Eric Little.

"Both of these officers will be able to say they commanded the Army's only space brigade ... a truly unique brigade demanding much from its leadership," Dickinson said. "This is what we call a multi-compo brigade - that is, it's made up of Soldiers from the active duty force, the reserve component and National Guard."

The 1st Space Brigade provides critical space capabilities and products to warfighters and combatant commanders and has elements forward stationed or deployed to seven countries.

"It has to maintain the highest state of readiness while executing several substantially different missions among its deployable, rotational and forward-stationed units," Dickinson continued. "It's a command responsible for providing manned, trained and equipped units to provide not only the Army, but the entire joint force with assured access to the space domain, while denying that to our adversary. At the same time, 1st Space Brigade's commander must ensure the health, welfare, discipline and professional development of more than 1,100 Soldiers and [Department of Army] civilians."

Dickinson thanked Zellmann for his many accomplishments during his tenure that he said will have a lasting impact on the brigade.

"Rick, I know this has been both a demanding and a very rewarding assignment - not only for you, but also for your family. Thank you for your selfless service and your leadership."

Dickinson then turned his attention to the incoming commander.

"Today Col. Eric Little takes over, and Eric is no stranger to SMDC/ARSTRAT, JFCC IMD (Joint Forces Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense) or 1st Space Brigade, having been stationed here at Fort Carson, Peterson Air Force Base and Schriever Air Force Base in the past."

Little served as the J37 at JFCC IMD. In the 1st Space Brigade, he served as an Army Space Support Team leader, then as commander of the 1st Space Company followed by an assignment as the executive officer to the SMDC deputy commanding general.

"It would have been very hard for the Army to find a better officer than Col. Eric Little to take this command from Col. Zellmann and to continue to lead this brigade's critical mission in support of this nation," said Dickinson.

"Eric, welcome back. I challenge you to carry on the work Col. Zellmann started, maintain and increase the combat readiness of this brigade, and continue to care for the great Soldiers and their families of the 1st Space Brigade."

As the outgoing commander, Zellmann thanked the Soldiers, civilians and contractors of the 1st Space Brigade and his family.

"It's been an honor and a privilege to serve in the 1st Space Brigade - a time in my career I will always cherish," said Zellmann.

Upon taking command, Little thanked Dickinson and Zellmann then addressed the Soldiers on the importance of the brigade.

"To the Soldiers of the 1st Space Brigade, we have a very important mission at an important time in our nation's history. I know you are up for whatever tasks and challenges come our way. I look forward to serving with each and every one of you."

Little returns to the command following his position as the U.S. Army Pacific director of the Strategic Programs Division, where he oversaw space, cyber electromagnetic activities and special technical operations.