BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. — Gen. Robin Rand took command of Air Force Global Strike Command during a ceremony here July 28, becoming the newest leader of the organization responsible for the nation’s force of ICBMs and nuclear-capable bombers.
A command pilot with more than 5,000 hours, including 470 in combat, Rand previously served as commander of Air Education and Training Command. He succeeds Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson who had served as AFGSC’s commander since October 2013.
Presiding at the ceremony, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III said, “General Wilson and the Global Strike team have worked tremendously hard to make significant, positive changes for the Airmen who are charged with the deterrence mission. General Rand is the perfect leader to connect with those Airmen and continue to drive improvements for them and their families. They deserve nothing less.”
Addressing an at-capacity crowd of Airmen, distinguished visitors, commanders and senior Air Force leaders at Barksdale AFB’s historic Hoban Hall, Rand said, “Today is a great day to be an American Airman and it’s a great day to be in Air Force Global Strike Command.
“The thousands of Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen who are doing job number one for our nation — these Airmen keep the wolves at bay in locations like Malmstrom, F.E. Warren, Minot, Whiteman, Barksdale, soon to be Kirtland, Dyess and Ellsworth,” he continued. “Bad people with bad intentions don’t mess with the United States because of these amazing Airmen.”
A seasoned leader and airpower tactician, Rand previously served as commandant of the U.S. Air Force Weapons School, commander of the 8th Fighter Wing, 56th FW and 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing; and commander of 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern), in addition to commanding AETC. He pledged to keep AFGSC focused on developing and providing combat-ready forces for nuclear deterrence and global strike operations.
“My priorities are mission, Airmen and families,” he said. “We must deter and assure. In order to do that, the staff and I will laser focus on making sure our wings receive the tools, the equipment and the training necessary to execute our combat mission with great precision and lethality. Likewise, Kim and I will place a high premium on our families and their well-being. Trust me — military families are personal to me.”
The general also reminded Airmen of the importance of maintaining the Air Force core values, and of the rich heritage the command holds.
“Air Force Global Strike will focus on ensuring our Airmen have an unyielding commitment to our core values of integrity, service and excellence. And finally, we will ensure that our Airmen have a keen awareness of our rich heritage and legacy that was forged in blood, sweat and tears by countless Americans and Airmen before us who were assigned to 8th Air Force and 20th Air Force,” he said. “While history makes us smarter, our heritage will make us prouder, and we will use that heritage to help inspire our Airmen to great heights,” he continued.
The Air Force elevated AFGSC to a four-star major command in order to provide its global strike mission with the highest level of leadership oversight similar to the service’s other operational core missions.
“The appointment of a four-star sends a powerful message to our Airmen, allies and any would-be enemy,” said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. “It speaks to our commitment and promise to our Airmen and nation to ensure a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent and global strike capability with the right level of leadership emphasis.
“In a complex global environment, having a four-star general responsible for the world’s most powerful weapons is critically important,” James added. “General Rand will continue to give voice to our Airmen and continue to advance progress made in the nuclear enterprise.”
Welsh stressed to AFGSC Airmen that the Air Force will continue to support the nuclear enterprise.
“Nuclear deterrence for America and her allies remains our No.1 mission priority,” he said. “A four-star at the helm of Air Force Global Strike Command affirms that commitment.”
Wilson led AFGSC through a number of important changes during his tenure, including the Force Improvement Program, which instituted a culture of empowerment of its Airmen.
In his farewell address, Wilson praised the AFGSC Airmen and civilians for their hard work and dedication.
“I’m extremely proud of what you’ve accomplished over the past few years. You are our nation’s deterrent and global strike force. You provide safe, secure and effective deterrence, and should deterrence ever fail, you are America’s ability to swiftly and decisively strike anywhere on the globe,” he said. “Because of you, we are the greatest Air Force on the planet. You are America’s global power, and much like the chief says about airpower, without global strike, you do lose.”
Wilson will become the deputy commander of U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt AFB, Nebraska.