Air Force Recruiting Service changes command

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Chance Babin
  • Air Force Recruiting Service Public Affairs

Maj. Gen. Edward W. Thomas Jr. took the reins of Air Force Recruiting Service June 11 in a ceremony at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph officiated by Lt. Gen. Marshall “Brad” Webb, the commander of Air Education and Training Command. Thomas is replacing Maj. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt.

Thomas joins AFRS from his previous assignment as director of Public Affairs, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, the Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia. He was commissioned in 1990 following his graduation from Texas A&M University.

“It is an honor to be joining our Air Force’s and now Space Force’s incredibly talented recruiting team,” Thomas said. “I cannot tell you how humbled I am. I am truly grateful for the privilege to serve and now lead this command. I am truly honored to follow General Leavitt into this command. It’s clear that you have led an extraordinary team here that has absolutely thrived for the past two years.”

When speaking of Thomas’s experience, Webb spoke about the credentials he brings to AFRS.

“He’s led the strategic communications, frankly, for every event the last 30 years or so it seems,” Webb said. “For all you AFRS folks that are tuned in, you are getting a phenomenal commander. He’s ready to lead, innovate and succeed as a team.”

Other staff assignments Thomas had include serving as the special assistant for Public Affairs to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, director of Public Affairs for U.S. European Command and director of Public Affairs for Pacific Air Forces. In addition to advising the secretary and chief of staff of the Air Force on public affairs matters, he was responsible for developing and executing global communication processes to build understanding and support for the Air Force.

Leavitt, who commanded AFRS since June 2018, will take a director position at AETC. One of her noted accomplishments was the transformation of AFRS into a total force recruiting enterprise to recruit the nation’s best talent. In addition to recruiting for the regular Air Force, the Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard, total force recruiting also encompasses the Air Force Academy admissions, Air Force Civilian Service and Air Force ROTC. The mission of AFRS is to inspire, engage and recruit the next generation of Airmen and Space Professionals.

“I know you will lead AFRS to new heights,” Leavitt said to Thomas at the change of command ceremony.

“To the men and women of AFRS, thank you for your hard work and dedication over these past two years,” she continued. “Thank you for welcoming me onto your team. It’s been my honor to serve as your commander.”

Leavitt further commented on the importance of diversity and inclusion as a means to keep the Air Force on the cutting edge.

“To remain the best in the world, we must continue to recruit a diverse group of highly talented men and women,” Leavitt said. “In order for diversity to also be a competitive advantage, we must have inclusion.”

Webb welcomed Leavitt to his AETC team and commended her on the job she accomplished at AFRS.

“When I think of AFRS, you have as your motto ‘inspire, engage and recruit.’ Since I have arrived here at AETC last summer I have gravitated to that first word—inspire,” Webb said. “Your whole service, everywhere I’ve ever been with you and interacted with you, has been inspirational. In a situation like that, you can’t but point to the commander. The commander sets the tone for an organization’s culture. I have to give credit to (Leavitt) for setting that tone.”

He also gave Leavitt credit for leading the way on the Total Force Initiative, rated diversity, innovation and the COVID-19 response.

Attendance for the change of command was limited due to COVID-19 safety restrictions, but around 300 people were able to join in the ceremony virtually.