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News | Nov. 4, 2022

JTF-SD welcomes its second commander

By Ms. Bridget Bonnette Joint Task Force-Space Defense Public Affairs

The Joint Task Force-Space Defense welcomed its second commander during a change of command ceremony held here, Nov. 4, 2022.
U.S. Space Force Brig. Gen. Dennis Bythewood took over the task force’s leadership role from its inaugural commander, U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Tom James. 
U.S. Space Command commander, U.S. Army Gen. James. Dickinson officiated the change of command ceremony.
“Tom assumed command of JTF-SD on the date of its activation – August 29, 2019,” Dickinson said.  “If you’re doing the math, he served for 38 months, but it was a necessary step to create continuity for today and a solid foundation for the future. Simply put, Tom was the right leader at the right time, for this unique and demanding command.”
Over the course of his tenure, James led a team of warfighters who establishment of JTF-SD’s Commercial Operations Cell, resulting in the integration of commercial sensors from around the world into the US Space Domain Awareness network; pioneered fusion of Missile Defense Agency sensors into the National Space Defense Center to augment the Space Surveillance Network; developed a Threat Response Plan portfolio with new response options and processes to counter a range of threats;  and, helped strengthen DoD’s relationship with the Intelligence Community and Interagency. 
“Tom’s leadership ensured JTF-SD and the NSDC grew into a truly Joint and Partnered organization capable of executing its space superiority mission, today certainly, and more important in the future,” Dickinson added.
As the outgoing commander, James shared his perspective on the past few years…
“It has been the highlight of my career to serve with the Space Troopers of the JTF-SD.  Our mission, protecting and defending our access to key space systems, is absolutely critical to national security.  More than anything else, it is our incredible people that make the task force so effective. Their dedication and passion for the mission, their extreme competency in a complex and highly technical environment, and their relentless approach in achieving our objectives is what ensures me that we will win if tested in our domain,” said James. “Dennis and Jahnna Bythewood—there could not be a better team to take the Space Troopers to the next level, to charge into the next chapter of your unique and absolutely critical national mission. Thank you for taking on this challenge, and though it is an incredibly rewarding position, it is a challenge. Thank you for the sacrifices you have made and will make on behalf of your Troopers and your mission.”
Bythewood has served as the task force’s deputy commander since July 2021. In his previous roles, Bythewood served as program director for weather and missile warning acquisitions, program director for space control acquisitions, and program executive officer for the newly established development corps. at the then Space and Missile Systems Center and previously served here as the 50th Operations Group commander.
“As the 50th Ops Group commander, I donated my premier operations floor to enable the standup of the Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center in 2015 and watched the organization take its first steps.  It’s great to be back here seven years later engaged in what I think is the most exciting mission area within the Space Force,” said Bythewood. “Our organization embodies innovation and thinking outside the box to counter threats. I am excited to be back to lead the team for the next couple of years.”
As the task force’s second commander, Bythewood will be responsible for the joint military force, Department of Defense civilians and contractor personnel executing the task force’s mission, in unified action with mission partners, to deter aggression, defend capabilities and defeat adversaries throughout the continuum of conflict in order to gain and maintain space superiority in the U.S. Space Command area of operations.
“We are fortunate to have Brig. Gen. Dennis Bythewood assume command of JTF-SD,” said Dickinson. “Dennis is ready to assume command and has my full trust and confidence. I know Dennis will build upon Tom’s success, advance JTF-SD’s operational expertise, and will posture our forces to preserve freedom of action in the space domain.”
The JTF-SD integrates systems and capabilities to give the combatant command options to protect and defend national, allied and partner space assets.
“We will continue to innovate as we have the last couple of years to better understand our area of responsibility, and execute our space superiority mission,” said Bythewood, who has served in multiple operations and acquisition positions. “We are developing the foundational intelligence needed to maximize our capabilities and when new ones are delivered, we will synchronize those with support from USSPACECOM.”
Since its JICSpOC roots, the JTF-SD has provided unprecedented unity of effort with the intelligence community in the space domain.
“Partnerships are so important to our work here and will continue to be foundational as we move these critical capabilities forward in the next couple of years,” he said. “We have a great diversity of talent from across the DoD and intelligence community who are energized and focused on the threat. I am excited to work with the entire team to drive our organization into the future.”