AFRL commander welcomes new leader to lab’s Kirtland site
KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFRL) — “He entered the Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate as an Airman and is leaving as a Guardian,” said Maj. Gen. Heather Pringle, commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory, as she began the change of command ceremony in which Col. Eric Felt, the Space Vehicles director and commander of the AFRL Phillips Research Site, relinquished command to Col. Jeremy Raley, July 13 at Kirtland AFB.
“I am proud to say that over two years ago at the standup of the Space Force, AFRL made a momentous decision to become one lab supporting two services, the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Space Force,” Pringle said. “Our relationship with the Space Force is solid, and I attribute much of that success to Col. Felt. He has been a leader in the lab’s space domain strategic forecasting for the next 20 years, and in long-range planning for lab facilities and experiments that will continue to support our space technology.”
Pringle told the packed house of AFRL members, Kirtland AFB senior leaders, community partners and congressional representatives, distinguished guests and family members that she could not state clearly enough the importance of Felt’s achievements, just in 2021 alone, where he oversaw a record six satellite launches and 14 major space experiments.
“The transitioning of leadership is a special moment for all of us,” Felt said, as he reflected on his tour as director and commanding the Phillips Research Site composed of AFRL’s Space Vehicles and Directed Energy Directorates, a more than 2,200 workforce.
Felt spoke of some of the “surprises” he has learned over the past four years, addressing the power of teams and what a team can accomplish versus an individual; having a unity of purpose and how that unity will defeat our competitors who are doing all they can to threaten our capabilities in space; and maintaining a hopeful outlook based on democracy, the free market and innovation.
“Jeremy has big shoes to fill, but let me assure you, Space Vehicles team, that you are lucky,” Pringle said. “Col. Raley’s credentials in science and technology are long-standing, attaining a doctorate early in his career and applying that knowledge as a bench-level scientist. His assignments have been diverse, spanning research and development and acquisition, and an operational deployment where he was embedded with warfighters, giving him the opportunity to see how our systems and technology work in the field.”
Pringle continued by saying that Raley is known for action, performance and getting to the “finish line,” while excelling as a phenomenal negotiator.
Raley joins AFRL from his position as Director of the Strategic Capabilities Group within the Space Rapid Capabilities Office.
“I have been blessed to be put in this position, and I want to begin by thanking God, my wife, three sons and daughter, who have always been willing to go on the next move and for being supportive throughout this journey, and my thanks to General Pringle for giving me this opportunity,” Raley said.
Raley expressed his leadership philosophy of empowering his people and developing a level of trust where his staff is comfortable in bringing him good and bad news.
“It’s important that we are good stewards of the taxpayers’ money, and show how we are wisely executing those funds and delivering on our promises,” he said. “I want us to be willing to take risks and advance our space technology and programs for the best advantage to the nation.”
“We have a unique opportunity, Raley continued, to show how space helps those in the terrestrial domain, those on the ground. I have a special interest in this as my oldest son is a Marine Corps lance corporal sitting here in uniform today. I look forward to helping all of our multi-domain warfighters.”
The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space, and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,500 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit: www.afresearchlab.com.