KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFNS) --
Maj. Gen. Jeannie M. Leavitt became the Department of the Air Force chief of safety and commander of the Air Force Safety Center, during a change of command ceremony at Kirtland Air Force Base, Aug. 13.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. presided as Maj. Gen. John T. Rauch Jr. relinquished command after serving as the top safety officer since August 2017.
“For the last four years, Gen. Rauch, with the support of his family and a great team, has served with brilliance and has advanced the Air Force Safety Center to safeguard Airmen and Guardians, protect our resources and preserve combat capability,” Brown said. “John has a reputation of excellence … through his records and the tasks he has been given, he has made the Air Force better.”
“Not only is he a true warfighter, he is a strategic thinker, he is a leader who has instilled a culture of safety internal and external to this center,” Brown said. “For the past four years, John has been the longest serving Air Force chief of safety, he oversaw the safety and wellbeing of nearly 700,000 Airmen and Guardians. All through the churn of a pandemic.”
Brown acknowledged that despite the inherent dangers within the military, Rauch and the center ensured the safe execution of airpower anytime, anywhere.
Rauch, who is set to retire in December after more than 32 years of service, received the Distinguished Service Medal for his outstanding leadership of the men and women under his command, and championing vital safety efforts across the Department of the Air Force and Department of Defense.
In his last speech as commander, Rauch thanked his team for their service and sacrifices, “I remained amazed at your enthusiasm, professionalism and expertise as you embraced many opportunities to excel over the last four years.”
“As we focused our efforts, our purpose in life was to ensure that we helped other organizations successfully execute their mission safely,” he said. “It has really been an honor and pleasure to serve as the chief of safety for the Air Force, as well as the commander of the safety center.”
“Today we pass this command over to Maj. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt,” Brown said. “There is simply no one more qualified, and ready to take the reins of the Air Force Safety Center than Jeannie.”
“Throughout Jeannie’s career, she has demonstrated great vision, courage and leadership,” Brown said. “First proving herself as a very capable aviator (as the first female fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force), she inspired a generation of women to achieve what was not possible when she first came in.”
Leavitt praised the safety center’s accomplishments under Rauch’s leadership, and challenged the center’s team to continue. “I am very excited to be a part of the Air Force Safety Center, where we can have a tremendous impact on the safety of our Air and Space Forces.”
“It is my honor to be a part of this amazing team of professionals … you are the key to our future success,” she said. “Your impact is significant … a culture of safety protects our most valuable resource, our people.”
As the chief of safety, Leavitt develops, executes and evaluates all Department of the Air Force aviation, occupational, weapons, space and system mishap prevention and nuclear surety programs to preserve combat readiness. She also directs research to promote safety awareness and mishap prevention, oversees mishap investigations, as well as manages and directs all safety and risk management courses for the Air and Space Forces.
Leavitt previously served as director of operations and communications, Headquarters Air Education and Training Command where she was responsible for the world's largest training organization, providing initial skills, undergraduate flying, post graduate combat crew and supplemental training for over 300,000 Air Force, joint and international personnel at 65 Air Force and DoD locations.
She has served in a variety of flying, staff and command assignments and has commanded at the flight, squadron and wing level. She is a graduate and former instructor of the U.S. Air Force Weapons School and is a command pilot with more than 3,000 hours. Her operational experiences include operations Southern Watch, Northern Watch, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
Leavitt is the 15th chief of safety since the creation of the position in 1992.