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General Breedlove Becomes 35th USAFE Commander
General Philip M. Breedlove took command of U.S. Air Forces in Europe from General Mark A. Welsh III on July 31, 2012, in a change of command ceremony here.<br />
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany - Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz gives General Philip Breedlove the command of U.S. Air Forces in Europe during a change of command ceremony at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, July 31, 2012. During the ceremony, outgoing USAFE commander General Mark A. Welsh III relinquished command after providing command and control for air, space and missile defense of activities in an area of operations covering almost one-fifth of the globe, which includes 51 countries in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and the Arctic and Atlantic oceans. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Chris Willis)
1 photo: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 1 of 1: RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany - Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz gives General Philip Breedlove the command of U.S. Air Forces in Europe during a change of command ceremony at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, July 31, 2012. During the ceremony, outgoing USAFE commander General Mark A. Welsh III relinquished command after providing command and control for air, space and missile defense of activities in an area of operations covering almost one-fifth of the globe, which includes 51 countries in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and the Arctic and Atlantic oceans. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Chris Willis) Download full-resolution version
General Philip M. Breedlove took command of U.S. Air Forces in Europe from General Mark A. Welsh III on July 31, 2012, in a change of command ceremony here.



Presiding over the ceremony, Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz praised Welsh's past accomplishments and Breedlove's future potential as the commander of USAFE, Allied Air Command Ramstein, and U.S. Air Forces Africa.



"These two men are quintessential Air Force leaders - innovative, forward-looking and strategically oriented," Schwartz said. "They are both Airmen's Airmen - one an incumbent commander and the other eager and incoming. Both are exactly the kind that we need to serve at the helm of the United States Air Forces in Europe as the command conducts its very important mission."



USAFE is an Air Force major command and is the air component for two Department of Defense unified commands: U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command. As the air component, USAFE directs air operations in a theater spanning three continents, covering more than 19 million square miles, containing 105 independent states and possessing more than a quarter of the world's population and more than a quarter of the world's Gross Domestic Product.



Schwartz said Breedlove, who is USAFE's 35th commander, played an instrumental role in leading the Air Force during his tenure as the Air Force's Vice Chief of Staff.



A command pilot with more than 3,500 hours, Breedlove has served in six command positions since earning his commission in June 1977.



"You have demonstrated your effectiveness as a commander and a leader," Schwartz said. "You have gained the experience and the genuine credibility to back it all up."



Breedlove's experience will prove invaluable during his tenure as USAFE commander, Schwartz said.



"We look forward to your incredible leadership - to your mission first, people always approach, which emphasizes empowerment and inspires success, all the while demanding performance," he said.



Breedlove has served nearly a third of his 33 year career in USAFE with assignments in Spain, Italy and Germany. He said he and his wife welcome the new assignment.



"Cindy and I feel like we are coming home," he said. "I'm glad to be back."



Breedlove acknowledged USAFE's NATO partners and the past relationships they developed.



"I'm really excited to be a part of this team," he told the more than 700 service members and allied partners attending the ceremony. "I look forward to working with you as we continue to shape NATO airpower to support our joint force."



He said that since departing Ramstein in 2009 as the 3rd Air Force commander, he watched the growth of the command and its partners.



"You all have done so much since I left," said Breedlove. "I watched you with pride. You were amazing and your reputation for excellence now is worldwide. I'm so proud to be back as a part of the leadership of this team."



Welsh and Breedlove share a camaraderie that began when they were stationed together as young lieutenants in the late 1970s at Williams Air Force Base, Ariz.



"He brings a passion to this work and a commitment to teamwork that you are going to admire," said Welsh.



Under Welsh's leadership, USAFE has flourished in the range of its achievement and the scope of its impact, said Schwartz, who presented Welsh with the Defense Distinguished Service Medal first oak leaf cluster.



Schwartz said Welsh's experience at each level of command has provided a foundation for his success as USAFE commander and for the command's invaluable support to Operations Enduring Freedom, New Dawn, and Odyssey Dawn, and its NATO partners.



If confirmed, Welsh will take over as Air Force chief of staff from Schwartz, who is scheduled to retire in August. Giving credit to Betty Welsh for her efforts, Schwartz said that the couple will make significant contributions to the Air Force's future.



"All of these experiences have not only developed a highly regarded and highly effective, yet humble and grounded leadership team, they also serve as exemplars of judgment, performance and results, which give us deep confidence in their abilities and offer an entirely optimistic outlook for the future of our Air Force should the Senate confirm his nomination as CSAF," said Schwartz.

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