WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio — Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski assumed the top position of the major command responsible for installation support and the technology, acquisition, test and sustainment of the Air Force’s current and future weapon systems during ceremonies here June 8.
Pawlikowski took the reins of Air Force Materiel Command from Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger during a change of command held at the Air Force Institute of Technology’s Kenney Auditorium.
Wolfenbarger, who had served as commander of AFMC since June 2012, retired after 35 years of service.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III presided over the ceremony and commented on the importance of the occasion.
“The fact that we’re changing command from one woman to another is interesting, and it’s historic,” he said. “But it’s not as cool to me as the fact that we’re changing from one phenomenal leader to another.”
Welsh highlighted Wolfenbarger’s career and acquisition expertise, and he thanked her for her service.
“Under Janet’s sterling leadership, you have taken AFMC to new heights,” Welsh said. “She always wants the focus to be clearly on the men and women who give this great command life. It’s never, never been about her. But just once, before she retires, I believe it would be appropriate for the rest of us to acknowledge her truly monumental achievements.”
Wolfenbarger said that it has been the honor and privilege of her career to have served as commander of AFMC, what she calls the command she “grew up in.”
“I have spent the majority of my career in Air Force Materiel Command, and I couldn’t be prouder of the missions we execute and the people in this command who execute them,” she said. “I want to thank the entire AFMC team for their outstanding professionalism, hard work and dedication, and I am humbled by all you were able to accomplish on my watch. My final salute goes to you, with best wishes always from the Wolfenbarger family.”
In introducing Pawlikowski, Welsh expressed his confidence that AFMC remains in great hands, saying that she is eminently qualified and ready for the challenge.
“Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski has a spectacular track record of success,” he said. “She’s smart, she’s not intimidated by tough people or tough issues, and she is completely dedicated to the welfare of her Airmen and their families.
“Ellen, I ask that you take a look at the men and women in this command,” Welsh continued. “The Secretary and I trust you to lead them. We need you to inspire them. And we expect you take care of them.”
Pawlikowski thanked Welsh for entrusting her with the challenge and expressed her excitement at returning to AFMC.
“AFMC is my home. This is where I started my acquisition career, and I can’t think of a greater opportunity for me than to lead the great team of Air Force Materiel Command,” she said. “I have seen what the AFMC men and women can do, and I’m excited about leading and working with you all to make this the most agile Air Force we’ve ever seen.”
After serving as the Military Deputy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition at the Pentagon for the past year, Pawlikowski becomes the ninth AFMC commander since AFMC stood up on July 1, 1992. She will now lead a workforce of approximately 80,000 people and manage an annual budget of about $60 billion.
Pawlikowski entered the Air Force in 1978 through the ROTC program at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and became the first female officer to receive a commission from that program. She went on to attend the University of California at Berkeley, and received a doctorate in chemical engineering in December 1981, and entered the active-duty Air Force in April 1982.
She is now the third female four-star general in Air Force history.