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Air Combat Command salutes new leader

Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry O. Spencer, left, passes the Air Combat Command guidon to Gen. Hawk Carlisle during ACC’s change of command ceremony Nov. 4, 2014, at Langley Air Force Base, Va. Carlisle assumed command from Gen. Mike Hostage, who retired after 37 years of service to the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Candice Page)

Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry O. Spencer, left, passes the Air Combat Command guidon to Gen. Hawk Carlisle during ACC’s change of command ceremony Nov. 4, 2014, at Langley Air Force Base, Va. Carlisle assumed command from Gen. Mike Hostage, who retired after 37 years of service to the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Candice Page)

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. (AFNS) -- The men and women of Air Combat Command welcomed a new commander during a change of command ceremony here Nov. 4.

Gen. Hawk Carlisle assumed command of ACC from Gen. Mike Hostage before a standing-room-only audience at the 27th Fighter Squadron. Guests included Airmen, community leaders and civilian and military dignitaries including Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, former Secretaries F. Whit Peters and Mike Wynne, and former and current major command, Numbered Air Force and wing commanders, as well as the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Larry Spencer, who presided over the ceremony.

Gen. Spencer hailed the command's efforts, noting that "combat contingencies operations have been a way of life" and with ACC's role as the primary force provider of combat air power to America's warfighting command "none of it would be possible without Air Combat Command."

"The Air Force is able to project combat air power around the globe 365 days a year," Spencer said. "It is the most feared Air Force on the planet and that's because of you."

James acknowledged the command’s contributions and attributed ACC's ability to deliver 100 percent of combatant commander's requirements while also leading the command through recovery from the fiscal year 2014 government shutdown to Hostage's "leadership, guidance and management of the Combat Air Forces."

"Mike Hostage is not someone who can be (easily) replaced," James said. "He has been a tireless leader, dedicated and committed to excellence and has indeed ushered that into ACC through a very tough and challenging budget time in our Air Force history."

In his final address to the Airmen of ACC, Hostage expressed confidence about the future.

"As I prepare to hang up this uniform for the last time, I am comforted in knowing that strong, brave American Airmen like you will continue to defend us while your families quietly endure their sacrifices."

He also thanked Airmen for their service, which allows the greater society to enjoy freedom and liberty.

"Thomas Jefferson once wrote, ‘The price of freedom is eternal vigilance,’” he quoted. “I am proud to have served with you and I thank you for maintaining that vigilance."

James noted that the command will gain another great leader in Carlisle.

"Fortunately for our Air Force, we have another great leader ready to take the reins," James said. "He has commanded at all levels and at a number of key staff positions, really knows what it takes to be successful in the combat business and has all the tools in his toolbox to be able to take this command to an even higher level."

Citing his vast responsibilities in the Pacific Air Forces Command, James cited Carlisle's success in leading Air Force activities covering 100,000,000 square miles, 13 time zones and including approximately 60 percent of the world's population in 36 separate nations.

James specifically lauded PACAF's timely humanitarian response to super typhoon Haiyan, which devastated portions of Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines in November 2013.

"I think you will agree, Hawk Carlisle is a pretty cool guy," James said.

Carlisle's first official act upon taking command was to order the attending troops at ease. He followed by offering thanks for the opportunity to continue to lead America's Airmen.

"You have entrusted me with our nation's greatest treasure, her sons and daughters,” Carlisle said. “Please rest assured that I will do everything in my power to be worthy of leading those incredible Airmen; to care for them and their families and to continue their legacy of excellence."

With a nod to his longtime friend, Carlisle congratulated the Hostages on their career, and pledged to take care of ACC's Airmen and the important mission they carry out.

"You have my solemn promise that I will continue your work ensuring that ACC remains part of the most capable and lethal Air Force on the planet," he said.

Carlisle also paid tribute to the legacy of Langley AFB and the Hampton Roads area in its role in Air Force and aviation history.

"This field where we sit today is truly home to heroes. Heroes like Billy Mitchell, who in 1921, demonstrated air power when he sank the Ostfriesland and Robin Olds, the triple fighter ace.

"When I talk about heroes, I am not only referring to our proud and distinguished past,” he continued. “Take a look around you. These are the current day heroes standing among us; those whose stories we know and those whose stories remain to be written. ACC Airmen continue to conduct missions in all corners of the globe, including here at home."

The general predicted that the demand for airpower will continue to rise and the only way to be successful is together.

"The American people expect us to hold to our core values, live up to the legacy of those who have come before us and continue to carry the torch,” he said. “Our Airmen are what make us the greatest fighting force the world has ever seen. This field is home to heroes and I am humbled to stand before them today.”

Gen. Carlisle, a 1978 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, is a command pilot with more than 3,600 flying hours in the AT-38, YF-110, YF-113, T-38 Talon, F-15A/B/C/D Eagle, and C-17A Globemaster III.

In addition, he has commanded at a fighter squadron, an operations group, two wings and a numbered air force. Carlisle is a joint service officer and served as the chief of air operations, U.S. Central Command Forward in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; the director on Air Staff, operational planning, policy and strategy; as the deputy chief of staff for air, space and information operations, plans and requirements, and twice in the plans and programs directorate. He also served as deputy director, and later, the director of legislative liaison at the office of the secretary of the Air Force and deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and requirements at the Headquarters U.S. Air Force in Washington, D.C.

The general was last stationed at ACC as the commander of the 1st Operations Group at Langley AFB from June 1998 to March 2000.

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