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Webb takes command of AFSOC

Gen. David L. Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, presents the Air Force Special Operations Command flag to Lt. Gen. Brad Webb during the change of command ceremony at Hurlburt Field Fla., July 19, 2016.  Webb is the 11th commander of AFSOC, and he returns to the Florida panhandle for his fifth tour of duty.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie Holochwost)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein presents the Air Force Special Operations Command flag to Lt. Gen. Brad Webb during the change of command ceremony at Hurlburt Field, Fla., July 19, 2016. Webb is the 11th commander of AFSOC, and he returns to the Florida panhandle for his fifth tour of duty. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Melanie Holochwost)

Lt. Gen. Brad Webb addresses the assembled Air Commandos and guests July 19 as the newly installed commander of Air Force Special Operations Command. Webb returns to Hurlburt Field as the 11th AFSOC commander, where he previously served as a squadron, wing and numbered air force commander. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Krystal Garrett)

Lt. Gen. Brad Webb addresses the assembled air commandos and guests July 19, 2016, as the newly installed commander of Air Force Special Operations Command. Webb returns to Hurlburt Field, Fla., as the 11th AFSOC commander, where he previously served as a squadron, wing and numbered air force commander. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Krystal Garrett)

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. (AFNS) -- Lt. Gen. Brad Webb took command of Air Force Special Operations Command during a change of command ceremony here July 19.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein presided over the ceremony where Webb replaced Lt. Gen. Brad Heithold, who will go on to serve as the principal deputy director of cost assessment and program evaluation in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Goldfein said he has a special place in his heart for air commandos, who helped saved him after his F-16 Fighting Falcon was shot down while flying a combat mission over Serbia in 1999.

“If it weren’t for the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron and the 55th and 21st Special Operations Squadrons pulling me out of Serbia, I wouldn’t be standing here today,” he said. “Our nation has no idea how good AFSOC is on the battlefield … but I do. And, I want to say thank you.”

Navy Vice Adm. Sean Pybus, the deputy commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, also participated in the ceremony. He said air commandos are indispensable to SOCOM’s efforts to win and influence operations around the world.

“Today’s special operations are about shooting, moving and communicating faster than our adversaries,” he said. “(We) have come to depend on AFSOC to provide a great degree of that shooting, moving and communicating with the world’s best joint special operations force.”

Goldfein welcomed Webb, who previously served as the commander of NATO Special Operations Headquarters in Mons, Belgium.

"When it came time to pick the next AFSOC commander, we scanned the entire general officer corps to find another officer named Brad,” Goldfein said. “In all seriousness, General Brad Webb was the obvious choice.”

Heithold agreed. During his final remarks as the AFSOC commander, he spoke highly of Webb.

“This is a Distinguished Flying Cross recipient. This is a man who understands battle. This is a man who has been there. This is a man, an Airman, who has led multi-ship formations deep into Iraq,” Heithold said. “General Brad Webb is a person who has earned his spurs. He’s commanded at all levels, and he’s exactly the right person to take command.”

Then, Heithold thanked his air commandos.

“I am humbled to have served with you,” he said. “Thank you to each and every one of you in the formation and in the audience today. Thank you for your dedicated and selfless service to our country. It was truly a privilege to serve as your commander.”

AFSOC's mission is to present combat-ready forces to conduct and support global special operations missions. The command consists of highly trained, rapidly deployable Airmen, conducting global special operations missions ranging from precision application of firepower to infiltration, exfiltration, resupply and refueling of special operations forces' operational elements.

Webb, now the 11th commander of the organization, inherits a command with more than 19,000 air commandos worldwide.

“Our challenges today run the continuum of the spectrum of conflict,” Webb said. “AFSOC will tirelessly seek to strike the balance of these myriad of challenges.

"And, we will always have our most important asset … our people, our Airmen and families, in mind,” Webb continued. “As Orde Wingate said, ‘I will (go) with you boys any place, anytime, anywhere.’”

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