1st Air Force under new command

Continental U.S. NORAD Region First Air Force has new leadership
There's a new man in charge over at NORAD. Lieutenant General Kirk Pierce has relinquished power.
Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 7:06 PM CDT
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TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Lieutenant General Steven Nordhaus has assumed command of the Continental U.S. NORAD Region - First Air Force. This comes as Lieutenant General Kirk Pierce looks to retire after more than 34 years of dedicated service.

Friday morning, dozens of airmen, family members, and friends gathered at Tyndall Air Force Base for an official exchange of power, which took place during a change of command ceremony.

The ceremony was officiated by Commander of North American Aerospace Defense General Glen VanHerck, Commander of Air Combat Command General Mark Kelly, and Commander of U.S. Space Command General James Dickinson.

Relinquishing commander Lieutenant General Kirk Pierce says Nordhaus will do a great job in the new leadership position.

“You’re going to do great. You’re going to take it to new heights,” Pierce said. “I know how great you’re going to be here. I just got to get out of the way. You’re going to make a difference every day.”

Nordhaus will be responsible for planning and conducting air defense and air sovereignty in the continental U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands among other tasks. He says his background has prepared him for the new role. He graduated from the United States Airforce Academy, flew the F-16s for 23 years, picked up the alert mission during his time in the Toledo Air National Guard in Ohio, and even worked at the Pentagon serving for a member of the joint chiefs of staff.

“He then sent me out to NORAD North Comm, so I was the NORAD J-3 for Director of Operations Deputy and then back into director of ops for the National Guard Bureau so all those roles I think have really provided some good insight into this mission set,” said Nordhaus.

Nordhaus says he is excited to work alongside his new team and share new ideas to continue to keep his country safe.

“Yes, we do have new ideas that we’ll be bringing but I want to you know, talk to the team first, and we’ll always work with a team to make sure that we take those ideas and then make them even better because the elite team here are incredible professionals and they’ll make my ideas even stronger,” he said. “We will continue the day-to-day mission of detect, deter and defend America from any air threats and make sure our nation is safe.”