Gary Payton, who has overseen the Air Force’s space portfolio since 2005 is retiring, effective July 31, service officials announced Thursday. No word yet on who will succeed him as deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for space programs. A pilot and 1971 graduate of the Air Force Academy, Payton also flew on the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1985 as a payload specialist. He retired from active duty with the rank of colonel after more than 23 years of service. He has also served stints with NASA and the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization/Missile Defense Agency, and worked in the aerospace industry.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.