USAFE gets new commander at ceremony
December 13, 2010
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — After nearly three years as the U.S. Air Force’s top officer in Europe, Gen. Roger Brady passed the baton Monday to a fighter pilot with a wide range of leadership postings, from the Central Intelligence Agency to the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Before hundreds of airmen, a handful of four-star generals, NATO leaders, and German politicians, Gen. Mark A. Welsh III assumed command of USAFE at a ceremony in Ramstein’s C-5 hangar, shortly after receiving his fourth star at a separate event.
Welsh, 56, of Austin, Texas, during his remarks Monday and in an earlier interview, said his priorities will focus on people and the mission.
“I want to make sure that the combat power that we provide is as good as there is on the planet,” he said, while also ensuring that airmen and their families are taken care of.
He has no immediate changes planned.
“I’m not a big believer in rearranging the deck chairs because we can,” he said. “And so as long as things keep working, I think we can keep right on rolling. This command’s in great shape.”
Welsh, an A-10 and F-16 pilot, comes to USAFE from Washington D.C., where he served as the CIA’s associate director for military affairs. The various jobs he’s held during 34 years in the Air Force include commander of the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, vice commander of the Air Education and Training Command at Randolph Air Base, Texas, and commandant of cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.
As USAFE leader, Welsh will oversee a command of about 37,000 people – including about 31,000 U.S. servicemembers stationed throughout Europe.
He’ll also serve as commander of the Allied Air Command at Ramstein and as director of the multinational Joint Air Power Competence Centre at Kalkar, Germany.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said the Air Force was confident that Welsh would be an upstanding leader, while also thanking Brady, 64, for a “remarkable 41 years of distinguished service to our Air Force and our nation.”