PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colorado -- The Soldiers of the nation's only missile defense brigade welcomed a new leader Dec. 7 as Col. Kevin Kick passed the colors of the 100th Missile Defense Brigade (Ground-based Midcourse Defense) to Col. Chris Williams during a change of command ceremony at Peterson Air Force Base.

The 100th Missile Defense Brigade is a Colorado Army National Guard unit that engages and destroys intercontinental ballistic missiles in defense of the United States and designated areas. The unit was activated Oct. 16, 2003, and is headquartered in Colorado Springs.

"I'm honored and humbled beyond words for the opportunity to command this brigade," said Williams. "I want to ensure you that I will endeavor to continue the unparalleled success of my predecessor and his predecessors."

Lt. Gen. James H. Dickinson, the commanding general of U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, was the presiding official for the ceremony.

"It's a great day in the history of the 100th Brigade," said Dickinson. "Both of these officers can say that they have commanded, and will command, the most strategic brigade in the United States Army and probably the Department of Defense."

The 100th Missile Defense Brigade is a unique, multi-component unit, comprising National Guard and active component Soldiers. The total force of the brigade includes assets in six countries and five states, including the 49th Missile Defense Battalion of the Alaska Army National Guard at Fort Greely; Detachment 1 of the California Army National Guard at Vandenberg Air Force Base; the Fort Drum Security Detachment, Fort Drum, New York; and five globally located missile defense batteries.

Williams hails from the 263rd Army Air and Missile Defense Command of the South Carolina Army National Guard and most recently served as the chief air defense coordination officer of North American Aerospace Defense Command.

Dickinson said Kick, who led the unit for more than two years, increased the readiness and visibility of the brigade during a particularly tumultuous time as tensions with North Korea escalated in 2017.

"That is the story that needs to be told during his tenure in command," said Dickinson. "It was historic in the numbers of missile launches out of North Korea, but I knew the Soldiers of the 100th Missile Defense Brigade were ready."

Kick implemented the Warrior Reliability Program to ensure the 100th Missile Defense Brigade and 49th Missile Defense Battalion warfighters who serve on missile defense crews are always at their highest state of readiness. He also initiated the no-notice evaluation program by which missile defense crews are assessed without any prior notification.

Dickinson said Kick strengthened bonds with subordinate units, the 49th Missile Defense Battalion, and the five missile defense batteries located around the globe, in addition to leading several senior leader visits and media tours at Fort Greely and Schriever Air Force Base.

"I asked the Soldiers of the 100th to do two things," said Kick. "I asked you to believe and I asked you to decide. We need believers to do this incredibly important mission, and we are not folks who let things happen to us. We decide our future. We decide how we serve our nation. We decide how we engage with our families.

"I also asked you to achieve three things: Increase readiness, take care of people's careers, and strengthen the roots of this brigade," said Kick. "You did all three magnificently. Thank you."