WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio — Amidst a sea of aviation history, Gen. Arnold W. Bunch, Jr. assumed leadership of the Air Force Materiel Command during a ceremony at the National Museum of the Air Force here, May 31.
Presiding over the ceremony, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein emphasized the importance of the AFMC mission to Air Force readiness and the legacy of the “can-do spirit” inspired by the Wright Brothers and carried on by the AFMC workforce today as it leads the Air Force in innovation, breaking technological barriers across the mission spectrum.
“This command is the core of our technological superiority…delivering the lifeblood of our force,” Goldfein said. “You juggle the roles of researcher, buyer, builder, fielder, maintainer, and sustainer. The magicians of AFMC—America sleeps well at night because of you.”
During his speech, Goldfein talked about Bunch’s distinguished career, highlighting a number of successes, including that Bunch became the Air Force Test Pilot School’s only triple-qualified test pilot in the KC-135, T-38 and B-2 and his depth of experience across AFMC missions, including testing, life cycle management, program leadership and more.
Goldfein expressed his confidence in Bunch and his ability to lead the command as it continues bring innovative, war-winning capabilities to the warfighter.
“He is the perfect leader to take on Air Force Materiel Command on this day,” said Goldfein. “His leadership has been key in tackling acquisition reform and bringing the future faster, getting capability and capacity to the warfighter at the speed of relevance.”
“But above all, Arnie’s best known to foster genuine teamwork and share his Air Force pride. He makes everyone truly feel like they’re part of our Air Force family,” Goldfein said.
Bunch, an AFMC veteran, previously served in a number of positions across the command, including leadership positions at the Air Force Test Center, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center and the Air Force Research Lab. His career includes operational assignments as an instructor, evaluator and commander for the B-52 Stratofortress. A qualified Air Force test pilot, Bunch conducted developmental testing for the B-2 and B-52, among other platforms, attaining more than 2,500 flight hours over his career.
Prior to assuming command, he served as the Military Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics at the Pentagon, where he oversaw a number of new Air Force programs, including next-generation GPS satellites, the UH-1N Huey replacement helicopter and changes related to the Air Force strategic ground deterrent systems.
“This command is the most important MAJCOM (Major Command) in the U.S. Air Force to achieve the National Defense Strategy and to get the Air Force we need,” said Bunch upon taking command. “Only if this command works and this command succeeds can the Air Force succeed.”
Prior to the change of command, General Bunch received his fourth star during a brief promotion ceremony.
“This is a big day for my family,” said Bunch, acknowledging the large number of attendees at the ceremony and those watching online. “You honor us with your attendance today, and it means the world to us that you’ve come.”
Bunch becomes the tenth AFMC commander since the command stood up on July 1, 1992. He succeeds Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, who retired in in September 2018. Lt. Gen. Robert McMurry, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center commander, bridged the leadership gap and has served as interim AFMC commander since August. McMurry will now return full time to his duties at the AFLCMC.
Bunch will lead a work force with 80,000 uniformed Airmen and civilian employees and manage an annual budget of nearly $60 billion, as the command pursues its mission to deliver and sustain war-winning capabilities for the Air Force.
The command includes six centers, which are the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Air Force Research Laboratory, Air Force Test Center, Air Force Sustainment Center, Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center and Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center. The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force also falls under AFMC and serves as the national institution for preserving and presenting the Air Force story.
“To the men and women of Air Force Materiel Command, thank you for entrusting Caroline and I with this responsibility. We will pour our hearts and souls into this mission and the men and women who make it happen every day,” Bunch said.