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TRANSCRIPT: Ward's Remarks at U.S. Air Forces Africa Change of Command Ceremony
General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command, welcomed Brigadier General Margaret H. Woodward as the new commander of U.S. Air Forces Africa, June 28, 2010. During the ceremony, Ward also commended Major General Ronald R. Ladnier,
General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command, welcomed Brigadier General Margaret H. Woodward as the new commander of U.S. Air Forces Africa, June 28, 2010. During the ceremony, Ward also commended Major General Ronald R. Ladnier, former commander, for the many successes of Air Forces Africa over the past two years.

"This change of command ceremony marks a very substantial step in the maturation and creation of the Air Force's newest component command headquarters, and this happened under [General Ladnier's] leadership," Ward said. "It's now an energized, effective organization with over 300 airmen."

See related article: Brigadier General Woodward Receives 17th Air Force Guidon.

Complete transcript of Ward's remarks below:

PART I -- Introduction

Good Morning in German. It's wonderful to be here on this glorious day and this beautiful occasion. Good morning Airmen, Staff, and Family members of Air Forces Africa. General and Mrs. Brady, Distinguished Authorities, NATO Partners, Officers, Ladies and Gentlemen, "all protocol observed," many thanks for joining us today. It is nice to see so many familiar faces in the crowd.

I would be remiss if I didn't start by acknowledging Pam, Marie and David. The Ladnier clan. Thank you for your support, love, and the sacrifices you have made over the last few years. Let me acknowledge your sacrifices you have made to support Ron over the years. Let me also recognize Dan Woodward as you accompany Maggie here as she takes this great position that I know will be something for all to continue to admire.

This change of command ceremony marks a very substantial step in the maturation of the Air Forces newest Components, all of it taken place under Ron's command. Time truly does fly. It seems like I was just here doing the activation ceremony, almost two years ago. To Ron's credit, in that short time, this command grew from 3 people, 3 people, 'and a telephone whose number changed once a week' and it's now an energized and effective organization of over 300 Airmen and civilians doing fantastic work. I'll talk soon about the airmen and the troops of 17th Air Force, but I know your there and I applaud Ron and your troops.

It is quite a task to stand up a new organization. None of us go to school to do this, but we get called to do things, and standing up this organization has been an absolute joy to watch, a marvel to behold, and not just the organization but the effectiveness on the African continent. Ron has assembled a team that made it all happen so well. At the same time they were forming and maturing, they handled some very complex and difficult missions such as the Darfur airlift and support to the President of the United States' as well as other on the austere African continent. No small logistical task! Ron, through your leadership, this command made great strides in engagement with African air force leaders and their Airmen and helping promote air safety and security, and operational effectiveness on the continent.

PART II -- Recognizing Success

As you all know, "success" doesn't just happen. It takes leadership, vision, creativity, ingenuity, coordination, Teamwork all in making things happen, coupled with diplomacy.

Over the past almost two years, 17th Air Force and Air Forces Africa have been busy developing strategy and plans and conducting sustained security engagement and operations to promote air safety, security and development in Africa. Through its Theater Security Cooperation events, such as MEDLITE 2010 with Tunisia, various senior leader visits to countries such as Algeria, Uganda, Botswana, and Djibouti, South Africa, and its various efforts for airlift movements, 17th Air Force and Air Forces Africa are strengthening existing relationships and expanding our network of partners on the continent, all in the name of development and stability in a very important part of the world that has great impact on each of us where ever we may be.

I want to mention FLINTLOCK 2010. This is an important exercise series focused on military interoperability and capacity building that encourages a regional approach to countering terrorist threats. Our SOCAF Commander and told me "if not what was done by the air component, this (FLINTLOCK) would not have happened." This year it was held in Burkina Faso with over 1200 African, U.S., and European participants. 17th Air Force and Air Forces Africa did a superb job coordinating with the 86th Airlift Wing to use C-130J Super Hercules aircraft to meet the airlift requirements for moving participants and cargo over the continent of Africa. In addition to that, I hear more from fellow component commanders about the great work of this component more than any other. 17th Air Force is everywhere. You take things like the various pieces going on in Djibouti, at the CJTF Horn of Africa, the creation of the Air Operations Center, a model for which Air Force leadership is looking to expand in other places, done out of necessity, and your component brethren truly appreciate it.

The many successes that have occurred thus far and the many more to come could not happen without the support and commitment of the 17th Air Force/Air Forces Africa staff and its leadership. Major General Ladnier, Brigadier General Callan; Chief of Staff COL Jim Herron; Chief Master Sergeant Michael Grimm; and the entire US 17th Air force and Air Forces Africa staff -- you have done well, I am proud of you, and you have my utmost respect and gratitude for a job well done. I'd be remiss if I did not acknowledge Gen Roger Brady and the USAFE/3rd Air Force team. Your support to this effort is so richly appreciated and I thank you.

Later today, there will be a retirement ceremony for Maj Gen Ladnier. Ron and Pam are moving on to the Saint Louis area but takes with him a rich and noteworthy experience! We thank you for your dedication to duty and your professionalism. We wish you and your family, the very best to what I know will be an absolute marvelous stage to your life. All the best to you.

PART III -- Incoming Commander and Family

We are also here to welcome the next Commander, 17th Air Force, Air Forces Africa, Brigadier General Margaret Woodward and her husband Dan, who joins us from the 18th Air Force at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. Maggie, I want to congratulate you and your husband, for your successes to this day, and your selection to come here and take on the reins of this fine command. I received all kinds of calls from the Air Force leadership with respect to the qualifications of this general, there is no doubt in my mind you are prepared and are the right person for the job. Welcome aboard. I wish you the best during your tour, as you build on the fine work done in this organization, and as we say, continue to improve the foxhole. Be sure to note the AFRICOM team stands ready to assist in any way we can.

PART IV -- Best Wishes

To the Airmen, Civilians, and Families of the 17th Air Force and Air Forces Africa, congratulations for all that you have done to establish and build the solid reputation of this command. I thank you for your dedication in service to our Nation, and leave you in the capable hands of a new leadership team.

It's great to be here today to celebrate this change of command, a time honored tradition of transitioning authority from a leader to another who has accomplished much to a new leader who will continue the unit's legacy. Thank you all for attending this wonderful occasion, and especially for honoring the service of a great teammate, General Ron Ladnier. Thanks very much.