Colorado Springs, Colorado. (January 24, 2024): Practically everyone who has served in the armed forces has participated in a time-honored tradition, the Change of Command ceremony. In this photo by Rayna Grace, cadets salute during a Cadet Wing Change of Command ceremony transferring power from Cadet 1st Class Isaac Bates to Cadet 1st Class Abigail Worley at the Air Force Academy.
The ceremony ensures the continuity of command by marking the transfer of authority, responsibility, and accountability from one commanding officer to another. There is normally a passing of colors, or unit standards, from the outgoing commander to the incoming one which ensures that the unit is never without leadership. The military often includes such symbolism as aircraft flyovers, a ceremonial review of the troops, gun salutes, and military bands in the ceremony.
The Change of Command ceremony lets these cadets know they will never be leaderless during their career as Air Force officers.