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Proud to be back

  • Published
  • By Maj. Gen. Michael J. Carey
  • 20th Air Force commander
I would like to first and foremost thank all of those who participated and attended the 20th Air Force and Task Force 214 Change-of-Command ceremony. Especially to all the Airmen in the formation, all your hard work and dedication truly made the day special. I would also like to thank Gen. C. Robert Kehler, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, and Lt. Gen. Jim M. Kowalski, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command; I deeply appreciate the confidence in allowing me to lead in their commands. And to all the leadership from Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming and Colorado thank you and I am looking forward to working with you all in the future.

I have been wearing the blue for 34 years now, and it's a dream come true being back in Cheyenne. It is the third time the family and I have returned to the great state of Wyoming, and on behalf of Melody, Matthew, Joseph, Daniel and me, thank you for allowing us to come back home. We are all extremely happy to have the opportunity to reconnect with so many old friends and look forward to making new ones.

It is an honor to command and lead the 9,600 men and women of this elite and unique force. In fact, this organization has been unique since its creation. In World War II, 20th Air Force-the new Strategic Air Force- alone of the Army Air Forces was truly global in orientation as it did not belong to a theater commander. It was commanded by Gen. Hap Arnold as the executive agent for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Its shoulder patch was and is a symbol of its world theater. Twentieth Air Force was different. It was even given an out-of-sequence number in order to enhance the idea that it was a different sort of organization. It was designated 20th Air Force though there was no 16th, 17th, 18th, or 19th.

In World War II, 20th Air Force was led by specially qualified personnel to operate its unique weapons system and perform its strategic bombing mission. This remains true today.

As a member of the 20th Air Force, you are contributing to an operation which is of the utmost importance to the survival of the United States and its allies. We fight the war of deterrence every day, and we have done so for more than 50 years. Our mission is to put bombs on target, on time, when directed by the President of the United States. In short, you are the stewards of the president's weapons. We maintain the force in a safe, secure and reliable configuration. We generate strategic effects, and provide deterrence and assurance 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

As members of the ICBM alert force, you must always be mindful of the capability and intent of other nuclear nations. Even though the probability of nuclear attack on the United States is close to zero, the present intent of sovereign nations can change overnight. As long as there are nuclear arsenals in the hands of governments who are not yet completely reliable or friends, we will need the capabilities that you and the 20th Air Force provide.

The training, expertise and support you bring to the fight are so highly respected by all levels of our government and our allies. Everyone contributes and everyone matters to maintain the absolute critical mission of nuclear security. From operations, maintenance, security forces, mission support and medical, the nuclear enterprise relies on you, the nation relies on you.

Deterrence is straightforward; it is about convincing potential adversaries that the gain from a nuclear attack against the U.S. or its allies could never exceed the cost. Our main job in the 20th Air Force is to keep them convinced. And I know that you will effectively do that job every hour of every day.

Thank you again for the warm welcome, and I look forward to working with you all.